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

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What is the character's internal conflict in "The Cask of Amontillado"? Does the character's quest resolve this conflict, and is the resolution satisfying for the reader?

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A contemporary psychological interpretation would likely consider Montresor to have narcissistic personality disorder. Looking at his own “soul,” he does not see an internal conflict. Rather, he presumes his own perspective to be entirely correct and considers himself a victim. Because of that conviction, Montresor does not specify the "insult" or any of the "thousand injuries" that Fortunato apparently inflicted on him; he takes for granted that the other man has attacked him, thus justifying his "need" for revenge.

Montresor is explicit, in contrast, in laying out the criteria of successful revenge. In that regard, he does succeed insofar as he understands the terms of his own plot. He punishes Fortunato by killing him and he escapes unpunished—if we understand that as being brought to justice in court. However, he is telling this story 50 years later, and the reader cannot know how many times he may have replayed it mentally during those years: his obsession seems its own punishment. On the second criterion, he also succeeds, in that the victim knows who his avenger was. It is certainly true that Fortunato knows who walled him up. The fact that he seems unaware of having offended his killer does not matter to Montresor, because he himself knows what the injuries were.

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