How might the story be different if Montressor had told it the morning after the murder?Why does Montesor wait fifty years to tell his story? How might the story be different if he had told it the...

How might the story be different if Montressor had told it the morning after the murder?

Why does Montesor wait fifty years to tell his story? How might the story be different if he had told it the morning after the murder?

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Had Montresor told of his actions the next morning, the events would have been "a very good joke indeed,"  as Prospero would have been found and rescued; no murder would have taken place.  The last 3 sentences of the story are "Against the new masonry I re-erected to old rampart of bones.  For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them.  In pace requiescat!"  These suggest that Prospero was left to die and eventually did, but these phrases connote a deathbed confession, a retelling of the actions took place in the character's youth, and this has been the first telling of those events.  It also suggests that Montresor has visited this spot since the entombment, or has sealed up the entrance to the vaults, otherwise he wouldn't have known that the bones he re-erected in front of his masonry hadn't been disturbed. Finally, the last sentence's Latin translates in the familiar "Rest in peace,"  but it's ambiguous as to whom Montresor is referring -- to himself at at advanced age facing death and seeking forgiveness for his actions many years ago, or to his friend that he murdered, or both!

engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Had Montresor told this story the morning after the crime, it would have been treated as a confession, his victim would have been found, and he would have undoubtedly been arrested and either sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

As the story is, because it is told 50 years after the fact, one might say that the "statute of limitations" has expired on Montresor's alleged crime. That is, because it happened so long ago, we can still treat is as a very wrong deed, but its importance as murder is diminished by its age. Further, we are led to question the accuracy of the account because of its age. How are we, the readers, supposed to know if Montresor is remembering everything with exact accuracy? By "aging" this tale, Poe has accomplished a unique effect.

dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main reason that Monstressor waits fifty years to tell his story is because he is extremely proud of the fact that he has gotten away with it for so long.  He stresses this point at the end of the story.  This builds into the evilness of the character because the reader already knows that he wants to get his revenge on Fortunado, who probably did not do anything worth being murdered for.  But, at the end of the story we see that Montressor is extremely pompous and wants everyone to know that he has been able to hide this murder for half a century.  If this story had been told the next morning, there may still be the possibility that the murder would have been found out about and the evilness inside of Montressor would not have been stressed as much. 

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All true.  And don't forget one of the criterion for revenge set by Montressor himself:

I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser.

He may be crazy, but Montressor knows he has to wait to tell the story until much later in order to achieve his full measure of vengeance.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If Montresor had confessed the same day, he might have been caught.  He is very concerned that he not be caught because that is a major point of pride for him.  I also think he would have been too tired to tell it the next day after staying up all night bricking up the wall!

kadeejanicole | Student

What happend at the end of the story because i got a bit confused??

The reason he tells the story 50 years later is to kinda get it off of his chest. The night he killed Fortunato hunted him for this long. "Im pace requiescat!'. he wants him to live in peace..even if Montresor never does.

Read the study guide:
The Cask of Amontillado

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