Similar Personalities in "A Rose for Emily" and "A Cask of Amontillado"What are the similarities between Montresor's personality in "A Cask of Amontillado" and Emily Grierson's in "A...

Similar Personalities in "A Rose for Emily" and "A Cask of Amontillado"

What are the similarities between Montresor's personality in "A Cask of Amontillado" and Emily Grierson's in "A Rose for Emily"?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow. That's a really good question. I've never really put the two characters together but there are definite similarities. Both come from families that were once wealthy and influential but when their stories take place, both their fortunes and social standing have deteriorated. Both still live in the old family home and both take advantage of aspects of their homes to hide the bodies of their victims.In addition, both of their crimes seem to stem from an insult. Montressor's family was insulted by Fortunato and Miss Emily was insulted when Homer refused to marry her. Neither Emily or Montresor is punished for his/her crime. They both seem to be able to "punish with impunity." And, the reader questions the sanity of each characters. However, the characters do differ in some respects. Montresors wants to kill Fortunato and then never see him again. He obviously has no emotional attachment to the man. However, Emily kills Homer and then keeps him in a place where she has access to his body. She is obviously living out some sick fantasy with Homer, whereas Montresor simply wanted to rid himself of Fortunato. We also don't know much of the background of Montresor so it's difficult to say what caused him to be so revengeful. So we tend to identify with the horror Fortunato must have felt at the end of the story. However, we do understand much of Emily's background and I think that allows us to have more sympathy for her and less for her victim.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most obvious similarity is that they are both completely self-centered. They are concerned only with their own needs and feelings. Emily cannot stand being abandoned by Homer; Montresor cannot tolerate the insults he feels have been heaped upon him. Both characters are obsessed with meeting their own emotional needs by any means.

Neither Emily nor Montresor cares about the impact of their actions upon others. Neither exhibits any sympathy for their victims. Homer and Fortunato both suffer horrible deaths. Fortunato's murder is perhaps more horrendous since he dies more slowly and has more time to contemplate his own death, but Homer surely knows also that he is dying. 

Montresor is perhaps worse than Emily in this regard because he wants to inflict as much pain upon Fortunato as possible. However, neither Emily nor Montresor relate in any human way to their victims. There is no sympathy or empathy.

In modern psychological terminology, both Emily and Montresor are anti-social personalities: sociopaths.

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A Rose for Emily

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