Montresor, the story’s narrator, and his revenge on Fortunato, a nobleman, is in the center of the story. Montresor invited his “friend” to taste amontillado into the vault where Fortunato was trapped and buried alive. The story’s plot creates difficulties in defining the protagonist, as the author did not give readers a clear understanding of the reasons that conceived the revenge. This essay will examine if Fortunato’s words and actions support the narrator’s belief that Fortunato is worthy of hatred, or he is an innocent victim of the murderer.
Montresor tries to convince readers that Fortunato seriously insulted him and justifies the murder from the story’s first words. The narrator gives an emotional description of his suffering without proving substantial pieces of evidence. Montresor claims that “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge” (Edgar Allan Poe 85). It is difficult to argue that Fortunato’s actions and words that preceded the story hurt Montresor’s feelings. Since no reasons for that are shown, readers have to take that on faith. Although proofs are missing, Fortunato provoked the narrator’s hatred by specific actions as Montresor is confident in his allegations.
The author showed a meeting between the narrator and his revenge object, which contains a hint of a possible root cause of hatred. Despite being “a man to be respected and even feared”, Fortunato allows himself to have fun during the carnival, when Montresor finds him (Edgar Allan Poe 85). The story’s narrator notices a jester garment on Fortunato, “he had on a tight-fitting parti-stripped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells” (Edgar Allan Poe 85). A wealthy nobleman has no reason to wear clothes inappropriate to his status in society. The mentioned fact may indicate how exactly Montresor was insulted. The narrator is a representative of an old family that is commonly known for their intolerance. Along with his motto, “No one provokes me with impunity” which emphasizes a heightened sense of justice, these hints bring readers to a conclusion. Since Fortunato has a specific understanding of humor while Montresor is fragile, the narrator is an object for jokes that compelled him to seek revenge.
When Fortunato is on the verge of being buried alive, he shows an unexpected behavior that may acquit him. “We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo over our wine”, he says to Montresor (Edgar Allan Poe 89). It means that Fortunato is not aware of his degree of guilt. Otherwise, he would be crying and begging to be forgiven. The author probably shows that Fortunato’s actions and words are not worth apologizes, and he decided not to please his murderer and die in silence with dignity.
In The Cask of Amontillado, the author showed to what extent a noble man’s resentment goes. Montresor kills the persons he knows for years because of wounded pride. Although readers cannot consider the gravity of the revenge reasons, Fortunato’s negligent, until the end, attitude indicates that they are rather petty than significant. In the final analysis, Fortunato appears as a person who sustained more severe punishment than he deserves. It is unlikely that he worth the narrator’s hatred, but Montresor’s actions might be reasonable, taking into account the cruelty of the described time.
Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Allan Poes Annotated Short Stories. Edited by Andrew Barger, Bottletree Classics, 2008.