The Cask of Amontillado Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

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Why does Montresor want revenge on Fortunato?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Montresor never makes specific what Fortunato has done to him, suggesting that the "thousand injuries" he may or may not have suffered are less important than Montresor's perception of injury. 

We do get a hint that Fortunato considers himself superior to Montresor. When Montresor says he is a mason, Fortunato takes this to mean a Freemason, a group which apparently Fortunato is a part of--and Forunato exclaims "You! Impossible!" He "recoils" when Montresor shows him the trowel, and says "You jest." Then his mind returns to his quest for the Amontillado, and he urges Montresor on.

This dialogue, though short and merely suggestive, speaks volumes in a compact story. It hints that Fortunato considers that he is lowering himself to be with Montresor, a man he cannot seriously consider a fellow Mason, and only condescends to do so because of the bait of the rare wine.

On the other hand, Fortunato's snobbery is not stated directly as fact by either of the characters. One of the most interesting facets of this story is its porousness, the way it leaves itself open to construction and interpretation. 

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Poe actually never has Montresor state the specific reasons behind his wanting revenge, though he hints at several possibilities. Although he does mention injuries and insults, he never reveals details.

First, Montresor seems vindictive and almost paranoid. It could well be that the wrongs for which he is obtaining revenge never actually happened and are products of Montresor's imagination. 

Another possibility is that Montresor comes from a wealthy family now on hard times. He may blame Fortunato for the change in his family's fortunes or may simply resent Fortunato for being a nouveau riche.

Both men are wine connoisseurs and possibly merchants. There appears to be some rivalry concerning expertise in wines, or perhaps there was some sort of commercial rivalry in the past.

Part of the point of of this vagueness is to convey the idea that the desire for vengeance has become so overwhelming that the original cause no longer matters; instead, the vengeance and its planning have become an obsession for Montresor.

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