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“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, is a very interesting short story about getting revenge for Fortunato’s insults towards Montresor. Montresor plots to kill Fortunato by his knowledge for wine to lure him to his death. When Montresor brings him into the catacombs underneath the carnival, he finally kills Fortunato by trapping him and entombing him alive. The story reflects on his life in some ways and the reasons for Poe writing this short story is intriguing to know.
This story is filled with irony and Montresor acts off of impulse and does not feel any remorse or regret from his actions. As Fortunato portrays the victim, he has an addiction to alcohol which impairs people’s judgment, causing him to be gullible which then leads to his death. In the story, Poe represents two different aspects of himself, one side of him is Montresor which represents evil and the other side which represents the victim, Fortunato. “Poe’s psychology is clearly known within both the narrator of the story as well as the victim in the story. For instance, Poe’s darker desires can easily be portrayed through the eyes of Montresor while Fortunato’s character reveals a sense of hopelessness and helplessness”. This being said, Poe’s life and experiences have a serious effect on both Montesor and Fortunato’s character psychologies.
While Edgar Allen Poe is not exactly like Montresor, it shows in the story that they are almost equal. While Poe was young, his mother died from tuberculosis and his father died from too much alcohol consumption. Poe was then adopted into a new family of John Allen’s. Him and his adoptive father would always argue over his gambling and alcohol addictions, which could have been the explanation for his problems with his father. Moreover, when he was attending school in Richmond, Poe happened to always be excluded from the activities his peers were in because of his mother who had little money from being an actress, could not provide enough for him. This made Poe feel very isolated which relates very well to “The Cask of Amontillado”. With Montresor killing Fortunato, this shows that Montresor was looking for some sort of closure, just as Poe is looking for it as well. Poe’s relation with Fortunato forms with the many deaths in his life that he has to deal with. With the deaths of his birth mother, adoptive mother and his numerous wives, it forces him to develop a form of paranoia of being alone. The quote “Fortunato in a sense, acts a shadow projection as he projects Poe’s innermost feelings of hopelessness and abandonment”, explains that Fortunato shows the same emotions as Poe does, showing a huge relation in character.
Another representation of his life would be from the quote “A. N. Stevens suggests that Poe first heard the anecdote on which he might have based this story when he was a private in the army in 1827”, this represents a story when Poe saw a gravestone of Lieutenant Massie who had been unfairly killed in a duel by Captain Green. His fellow officers decided to take revenge on him for killing Massie. They acted as if they were friendly towards Green as they kept giving him wine until he was extremely intoxicated. Then they carried the captain into a small opening that led into the dungeons. The people who captured him shackled him to the floor, then, using bricks and mortar, sealed him up alive inside. Captain Green had died an inhumane death in just a few days. This could have been an inspiration for the short story as well.
As a result of much writing about pain and misery, there’s no doubt about why this is one of his best works of literature to date. Each of the characters are filled with psychological concepts and hints of irony. Montresor is way more vulnerable than the average human being to give in to his own desires and temptations despite how wrong they might be. By utilizing psychoanalysis and biographical analysis, Poe’s audience is able to understand the connection between his life and “The Cask of Amontillado”. Furthermore, by reading this short story, readers are able to get a better understanding of Poe’s mindset along with the environment and time period that helped him write it.
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