45 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask of Amontillado

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1846

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A Vow of Revenge

The theme of revenge is prominent throughout the text. Vengeance is the narrator’s murder motive and drives the events of the story. Montresor feels he has been wronged by Fortunato—although the reader is never told why—and he sets out to enact a devious plan to avenge himself. The thematic exploration of revenge is most apparent in the opening and closing of the story. The initial part of the story lays out Montresor’s intent as well as his philosophy on vengeance, and the final part brings his act of revenge to a head, revealing his lack of remorse for his actions.

The story’s opening lines launch the reader directly into Montresor’s narrative of revenge. He speaks of the “thousand injuries of Fortunato” and how he has ventured upon an insult that causes Montresor to vow, “At length I would be avenged” (161). He states that his resolution outweighs any risk it might bring to him, demonstrating his total devotion to revenge. Nevertheless, Montresor goes on to state that he “must not only punish but punish with impunity” (161), meaning his plan must not incur his incrimination or punishment. It must be definitive because, as Montresor explains, a wrong cannot be redressed if the redresser faces retribution.