The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

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What is the theme of "The Cask of Amontillado"? Describe how Poe makes the theme clear, and explain why his techniques are effective.

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In “The Cask of Amontillado," Edgar Allen Poe’s powerful tale of revenge, the reader sees how an obsession with vengeance can overwhelm a person.

When we meet the narrator, Montresor, he is vowing revenge upon Fortunato.

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.

He tells readers he’s been wronged, but he never reveals the nature of the injury. All we know is that Montresor has been preoccupied with these wrongs. But what Fortunato has actually done is immaterial; Poe’s point is how revenge can drive a person to extremes. Montresor declares:

I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

With this statement, we see how powerful Montresor’s need for revenge is. He seems to understand that revenge is a force powerful enough to...

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