Updated January 4, 2023

The Theme of Revenge in Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

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The Theme of Revenge in Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe essay
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In the Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Poe shows the cold reality that an offended man will go to, happily upholding his dark family tradition and motto. Montresor murdered his friend Fortunato for a family value; no man will cross a Montresor without being punished. This tradition is a foil to Montresor, showing what he will do if he wants to uphold his legacy. This is revealed in the text and through the actions of the characters. In the story there are numerous examples of the revenge that Montresor seeks for both himself and what his family stands for.

“THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had bore as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled –but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”

He wanted Fortunato to know precisely why he was being left to die, and he must know the motto by which the Montresor’s live by. Their arms mean “no one attacks me with impunity.” and it lets the reader know how serious this tradition is.

“The Montresors,” I replied, “were a great and numerous family.”

“I forget your arms.”

“A huge human foot d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.”

“And the motto?”

“Nemo me impune lacessit.”

“Good!” he said.

As Fortunato bumbles along foolishly, Montresor is fulfilling his ancestors wishes, revenge.

This heartless punishment is also seen through the actions of the characters. Fortunato sobers up and finds himself being chained and left to die in a wall that Montresor is closing up. He knows at this point why he is being left here, for Montresor was fed up with his insults and wished to crush the snake. The narrator, Montresor himself, brags how no one has found his secret and he has succeeded in his family tradition.

No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

With his duty done, Montresor feels that Fortunato was brought to justice. This backward logic allows the reader to pity Fortunato, as annoying as he was, because he did not deserve his sentence. Once Fortunato made his insults he was marked for death by tradition of the Montresor’s. This is shown through the text and through the actions of the characters. The theme of this cold story revolves around a dark and cruel tradition, do not cross a Montresor or you shall be punished with impunity.

The Theme of Revenge in Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe essay

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The Theme of Revenge in Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe. (2023, Jan 04). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-theme-of-revenge-in-cask-of-amontillado-by-edgar-allan-poe/

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