’s Revenge Essay, Research Paper


Revenge is the deliberate act of inflicting injury in

return for injury. Revenge also is the ghost that haunts one

man’s soul for almost fifty years in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The

Cask of Amontillado.” Is vengeance really satisfied by

Montersor in Poe’s tale? No, not only is it not satisfied,

but also ironically he damns himself for all eternity!

At the beginning Montersor gives us his two criteria

for revenge: “A wrong” he says “is unredressed when

retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally

unredresse[d] when the avenger fails to make himself

felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”

(Harris 335)

Are these two criteria met? “No retribution seems to over

take Montresor” (Harris 335). But, that is just how it

seems. From the onset of the story “… the narrator

[Montresor] suffers from a guilty conscience…” (Gruesser

1), which means that Montersor did suffer. Poe also makes no

indication that Montersor ever told Fortunato why he is

executing this “motiveless evil”(Harris 335). Therefore,

neither of Montresor’s requirements of vengeance are

accounted for. In reality Montersor permits himself to be

transformed from family avenger into a cold-blooded murder.

“He [Montresor] count[s] on God’s judgment as the final

instrument of his revenge. He kill[s] his enemy by leading

him into sins of pride, vanity and drunkenness” (Cooney

195). Here Montersor fails also. When Fortunato poses a last

prayer for mercy to his murderer and his God, “’For the love

God, Montersor!’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘for the love of God’”(Poe

153). “To this, Montersor [is] deaf and when the prayer

receive[s] a merciful hearing in heaven, Montersor’s

stratagems backfire[s]. Fortunato, lucky as his name

suggests [is] saved; Montersor damned”(Cooney 196). This is

reiterated by Gruesser when he writes “…going through with

the murder, Montersor boldly defies God, damning himself for

all time.” Cooney also states that Montersor misses the

irony at the beginning of his own confession, “You who so

well know the nature of my soul”(Poe 149). This implies that

he has been confessing to this “priest” for quite a while,

but has not been confessing all of his sins; this in turn

makes all of Montersor’s confessions in vain. Cooney also

shares with us that because of these false confessions

instead of being instruments of salvation they become

instruments of damnation. “Here, surely, is the irony of a

confession without repentance, an irony that makes the

entire plan double back upon the doer”(Cooney 196). So now

not only does he have the blood of Fortunato on his hands,

but the wrath of God on his head.

In Poe’s last line “In pace requiescat,” “let him rest

in peace,” Montresor prays for the soul of Fortunato, but as

with the telling of his confession Montersor realizes that

he does not accomplish his vengeance on any level. He did

not even achieve the sole requirements for his own brand of

retribution. And now must face his own soul and God because,

“Even now, when on his deathbed Montersor confesses all his

sins, he is deluded in thinking himself forgiven”(Cooney

196). Still, unfortunately, with this small prayer and

confession, for all eternity Montersor will be remembered as

a heartless, sadistic executioner.


Cooney, James. “The Cask of Amontillado”: Some Further

Ironies.” Studies in Short Fiction. 11 (1974):


Gruesser, John. “Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado’.”

Explicator. Spring. 1998: 129-30. EBSCOHost.


=7&image1.x=30&image.1y=12. 24 Oct. 2000.

Harris, Kathryn Montgomery. “Ironic Revenge In Poe’s

‘The Cask or Amontillado’.” Studies in Short

Fiction. 6 (1969): 333-335.

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Cask Of Amontillado.” Literature

and the Writing Process. Elizabeth Mcmanhan, Susan

X. Day, and Robert Funk. 5th ed. Upper Saddler

River, NJ: Prentic Hall, 1999. 149-53.


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