What are the villanous characteristics of Montresor in "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, Montresor wants revenge.  The reader is unclear as to what the final insult was that unknowing Fortunato committed, but it pushed Montresor to become a maniacal killer

Montresor's family motto states that his family will attain revenge but with impunity.  This simply means that Montresor will have to plan the perfect crime, thus, no one will know that he has murdered Fortunato. Monstresor will get his vengeance. 

Prior to meeting Fortunato, Montresor has made detailed plans to carry out his crime.  It will take place during the carnival when everyone is busy and the places are crowded.  No one will be paying attention to anything in particular. In addition, he will use reverse psychology by telling his servants to stay at home; therefore, he knows that they will slip away, and he will have his home to himself. 

Although it is not shown or told in the story, with his determination to carry out his plot, Montresor has gone down into the catacombs and placed everything needed to chain up his victim and wall him up in his eternal grave.

Montresor further establishes his cleverness when he tricks Fortunato into accompanying him down into the catacombs to taste the wine.  Montresor must have spent time studying his victim because he knows that Fortunato will come and also that he will have drunk wine and will want to drink more 

Montresor's acting skills are honed as well. He feigns concern for Fortunato when he has a coughing spell. He tells him that he knows that he will not die of a cough, knowing exactly how he will die. Despite the continued insults of Fortunato about his family, Montresor is able to keep his cool demeanor in tact and continue on with their journey. 

Proving himself heartless, Montresor listens to the begging of Fortunato to be let go.  

'Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone.'

'Yes, I said,' Let us be gone.'

'For the love of God, Montresor!'

'Yes, I said, for the love of God!'

There came forth only the jingling of the bells. 

There is a brief hesitation, but not enough to keep him from pushing in the final brick and sending Fortunato to his death. There has to be evil lurking in Montresor's heart to damn someone to this kind of death for just an insult. 

The plan worked for Montresor since the reader knows that after fifty years Fortunato's body has been undisturbed. 


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The Cask of Amontillado

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