The Cask of Amontillado

Length: 10 Pages 2469 Words

Outline Thesis: The Cask of Amontillado is about revenge. I. Introduction II. Psychoanalytical Criticism A. Poe’s Revenge 1. Father 2. Mother III. New Criticism A. Irony of Revenge 1. Controlled 2. Structured IV. New Historicism A. History’s view of Revenge 1. Poe’s Time 2. Critic’s Time V. Comparison of New Criticism and New Historicism A. Text’s view similar to Poe’s B. Text’s view contrasts with Critic’s VI. Reader Response A. Response to Justification B. Response to Success C. Response to Confession VII. Conclusion “Nemo me impune lacessit” (Poe 21), Latin meaning no one assails me with impunity. In this one line Poe characterizes The Cask of Amontillado. It is a story of the perfect revenge and why it is unattainable. The main character, Montresor, executes a plan, which he hopes will “punish [Fortunato, the wrongdoer,] with impunity” (18). The short story discloses that the act of revenge is not successful if “retribution overtakes its redresser” and if “the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong” (18). This story revolves around those requirements. The idea of revenge has played a major role in history a Continue...


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Poe describes Fortunato as a "rich, respected, admired, beloved" (20). The storyline for The Cask of Amontillado is presented as a memory. nd even today influences our culture. It is understood that here Montresor is using foreshadowing with irony to help gull his victim. It begins with "the thousand injuries of Fortunato I, Montresor, had borne" (Poe 18), progresses to the planning of the punishment, proceeds to the execution of the plan, continues with conclusion of the design, and starts over with the sting of failure. John Allan left a fortune close to a million dollars and Poe was not even mentioned in his will (Carlson, 7-8). This in itself could inspire the revenge, but the whole idea can take on new meaning when the setting is considered. The problem with accepting Montresor"tms plan comes down to the fact that the wrong is never explained. The name Fortunato is Italian and means one who is fortunate. There appear to be two types of irony taking place throughout the story. The first reaction to the story comes about from the idea of whether Montresor is justified in his revenge. Fortunato would have won also if he had gave in and gone back to the palazzo. The last reaction stems from who Montresor is talking to when he says, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul" (Poe, 18), and what the purpose of retelling the story is. He set his goals too high, so he must confess to ease his torment. This in turn casts a shadow on the perfection of the revenge, which Montresor needs else he will have failed and all his work will be for not.

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