Why does Montresor, the narrator, want revenge?

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," Montresor never gives a specific reason as to why he wants revenge. Rather, all that he tells us is that he had some personal slight against Fortunato. He claims that Fortunato had wronged him, grievously in his own mind.

Furthermore, if we are to believe his own words, it is certainly implied that this grievance had grown over time. Consider the very first sentence which opens the story: Montresor tells us, "the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." This unstated "insult" which he claims Fortunato had visited upon him, whatever it might have been, seems like it was more than anything else, a final straw, pushing him past his breaking point. Whatever ill will he held against Fortunato, it held much deeper roots reaching back in time.

That's all we can really say with any certainty.

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Poe doesn't specify exactly why Montresor wants revenge. All that we are told is that Fortunato insulted Montresor in some unspecified manner and has subjected his nemesis to a thousand injuries. In examining Montresor's motives we need to bear in mind that we only hear his side of the story. There could be all sorts of reasons why he would choose to exact such a terrible revenge: some trivial, some more serious. At the very least, there's no doubt that Montresor feels deeply hurt and offended by Fortunato and is itching to have his revenge. That he should choose to exact this revenge in such a grotesquely horrific fashion indicates that, for Montresor at least, this is a very serious matter indeed.

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