In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," what evidence suggests that Montresor has committed the perfect crime?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three indications in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” that serve to illustrate Montresor’s success in murdering Fortunato with impunity.  The first indication is not found in the text per se, but rather can be inferred from the fact that the story is related in retrospective fashion; in other words, it is clear from the first-person narration and use of the past tense throughout that the murder occurred at some point in the past.

The next indicator that Montresor succeeded in getting away with murder occurs at the outset, when the narration sets the stage for the story to follow and for the planning that went into the crime’s preparation.  Montresor, in his narration, informs the reader of the prerequisite for the perfect crime:  having the deed go undetected:

“ . . . the very definitiveness with which it [the extraction of retribution for Fortunato’s history of unspecified attacks or insults upon Montresor] was resolved, precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.”

The final and definitive indication that Montresor was successful in getting away with premeditated murder occurs in the final sentence:

“Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!”

Poe ends his short story with the narrator’s noting that the evidence of his crime has gone undetected for more than 50 years, and ends his tale with the declaration “Rest in Peace!”  He shows no remorse, and rejoices in both the act of vengeance and in the apparent fact that his crime was never discovered.

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The Cask of Amontillado

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