illustration of Fortunato standing in motley behind a mostly completed brick wall with a skull superimposed on the wall where his face should be

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe

Start Free Trial

What could be the "injuries" and "insult" that motivated Montresor to murder Fortunato in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado?" Is Montresor a reliable narrator? How does Montresor's concept of personal honor compare to contemporary American values? Why does Montresor wait fifty years to tell his story?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would not say that Montresor is a psychopath. I think he understands exactly what he is doing and, far from being unstable, is cold, cruel, and calculating in exacting revenge for an insult. His personal concept of honor is seemingly very pre-modern, rooted in the concept that one's reputation is a precious thing, and that insults are not to be tolerated. On the other hand, the requirements of such a moral code would seem to dictate that one ought to achieve satisfaction publicly, as a way of saving face. Montresor, obviously, does not gain satisfaction in this way. In any case, I do not read him as insane. Evil, perhaps, but not a psychopath.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Montresor is nuts. He likely perceived an insult from something Fortunado did, and Fortunado clearly has no idea what it was because he is not suspicious at all. Montresor is mentally unstable and a psychopath, so he does not make the most reliable of narrators.
Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

1.  Since Poe never reveals more, the reader can only guess at what the insults or injuries may have been. I have always thought it was probably some sort of slanderous statement(s)--an insult(s) of some sort.

2.  Not completely reliable, in part because of his biased hatred for Fortunato and because of his mental state.

3.  People still resort to murder to settle personal matters, but few plan it as successfully as Montresor.

4.  Montresor appears to be telling his tale on his deathbed or shortly before his death. Had he bragged about it earlier, his secret may have never been kept. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial