Analysis of Montresor's Mental Health in "The Cask of Amontillado"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 656 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 656|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Table of contents

  1. Montresor and His Mental Health
  2. Conclusion
  3. References

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" takes readers on a journey into the darkest recesses of human psychology and mental health, where vengeance and murder collide. The story unfolds with Montresor, the narrator, vowing to avenge the perceived injuries inflicted by his acquaintance, Fortunato. While the narrative offers scant details about the transgressions, Montresor's thirst for retribution hints at a profound grievance. As the story unfolds, culminating in the horrifying entrapment and murder of Fortunato, we are compelled to examine Montresor's motives and mental state. Could Montresor's actions be attributed to a severe mental illness? In this essay, we delve into the disturbing psyche of Montresor and consider the possible mental disorders that might have driven him to commit such a heinous act.

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Montresor and His Mental Health

The narrative commences with Montresor's declaration: "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge." While Poe does not divulge the exact nature of the transgressions, the intensity of Montresor's desire for retribution implies something substantial. Montresor's revenge culminates in capturing Fortunato, confining him within a catacomb, and ultimately taking his life. What psychological forces could propel someone to such heinous acts? It is plausible that Montresor grappled with a mental illness that drove him to commit murder.

Schizophrenia surfaces as one possible explanation. This severe mental illness is characterized by abnormal thoughts, behavior, and an inability to discern reality from delusion. Notable criminals like Ed Gein and Richard Chase have grappled with schizophrenia. Montresor exhibits symptoms akin to this disorder in the story, particularly aggression and the inclination to imbue ordinary events with personal significance. It is conceivable that a minor slight from Fortunato, amplified by Montresor's possible schizophrenia, led him to perceive murder as the only viable recourse. Individuals afflicted with schizophrenia have been known to harm others, lending credence to this interpretation.

Bipolar disorder emerges as another conceivable diagnosis. This mental illness, as described by WebMD, encompasses extreme mood swings, erratic behavior, and fluctuations in thinking and energy levels. Montresor's behavior and thinking in the story are undoubtedly erratic and disturbing. Consider this passage: "I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my to smile now was at the thought of his immolation" (Poe). Montresor's ability to maintain a genial facade while contemplating Fortunato's demise aligns with the erratic behavior associated with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

A final diagnosis to consider is antisocial personality disorder (APD). APD is often associated with serial killers, such as Ted Bundy and Robert Black. It is defined by MedlinePlus as a condition wherein an individual habitually manipulates, exploits, or violates the rights of others. Montresor's calculated and criminal behavior, as he orchestrates Fortunato's murder, aligns closely with this definition. His malevolent actions throughout the story suggest that he may indeed exhibit symptoms of APD.

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In conclusion, Montresor's character in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" could plausibly be grappling with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality disorder. His transformation from harboring a grudge to committing an abhorrent act of murder raises unsettling questions about his mental state. The calculated and malevolent nature of Montresor's actions, depicted with chilling precision by Poe, underscores the possibility of a deeply disturbed mind at the heart of this macabre tale.


  1. Poe, E. A. (1846). The Cask of Amontillado. Godey's Lady's Book, 33(7), 266-267.
  2. Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Ruiz, P. (2014). Kaplan & Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry. Wolters Kluwer Health.
  3. Gein, E., & Michaud, S. (1988). The Ed Gein File: A Psycho-Biography of the World's Most Infamous Killer. St. Martin's Paperbacks.
  4. WebMD. (n.d.). Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depressive Illness or Manic Depression).
  5. MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Antisocial personality disorder.
  6. Murray, L. (2010). Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Wiley-Blackwell.
  7. Bundy, T., & Lowry, D. (1980). The Ted Bundy Murders: The Crimes and Life of One of America's Most Infamous Serial Killers. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Analysis of Montresor’s Mental Health in “The Cask of Amontillado”. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Analysis of Montresor’s Mental Health in “The Cask of Amontillado”.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019,
Analysis of Montresor’s Mental Health in “The Cask of Amontillado”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Analysis of Montresor’s Mental Health in “The Cask of Amontillado” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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