Works Cited

Baraban, Elena V. “The Motive for Murder in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature 58.2 (2004): 47-62. Print.


Baraban takes an in-depth look at the possible motives Montressor has for murdering Fortunato.  She starts off by explaining how most people write the narrator of the tale off as being insane, but disagrees due to the fact that this explanation goes against the meticulous structure normally present in Poe’s writing.  Pointing out that the narrative begins with a late entry into the plot of murder, Baraban reminds the reader that this is a mystery that focuses on the why as opposed to the “whodunit.”  This view claims that there is a definite reason for the murder and subsequent confession, as opposed to these events unfolding for no reason.  Baraban deflates the argument of critics that Montressor is simply insane by stating that “such interpretation, however, seems to make certain details in the elaborate structure of the story unnecessary and this, in turn, goes against Poe’s approach to composition” (47).  She goes on to say that since one can find no textual proof of the narrator’s insanity, “one may add, there is no reason to assume it” (50).  These statements further the idea that all of the actions taking place in the story do have a purpose, and may in fact be occurring because Poe had a specific message to tell when writing them.  This source will be useful in my project since it makes a good parallel to Freud’s suggestion that the events in dreams are not random, but rather contain a message with a deeper meaning.  Poe did not include parts of his work without intending them to serve a purpose, much like the images in a dream.


Freehafer, John. “Poe’s ‘Cask of Amontillado:’ A Tale of Effect.” Jahrbuch fϋr Amerikastudien 13 (1968): 134-142. Print.


Freehafer explains that even though Montressor appears to have gone insane, Poe has not.  Had the work been written by a madman who shared the same thought process of the narrator, then the motive for the murder of Fortunato would have been something incomprehensible to a sane mind.  He also rebukes theories of paranoia directed towards Freemasons, removing another perhaps unfounded motive for the killing.  The perverse angle is thrown out by Freehafer when he writes “Poe’s works do not indicate that he believed in a ‘theory of perversity’” (135).  Further, the Freemason argument is dissected by his conlusion that “Montresor had no prior knowledge that Fortunato was a Mason. . .” (139).  If Poe himself never subscribed to perverse beliefs personally, and provides insight that Montressor was unaware of his friend’s Freemasonry, then  a valid motive should be present given Poe’s sane mindset when crafting the tale.  By showing the reader that theories of perverseness directed at Poe are inadequate, Freehafer argues that the thought out and methodical style of Poe must continue to come out in the story.  It is his voice, and he cannot hide the fact that there is a method behind  the narrators insanity.



Gargano, James W. “The Question of Poe’s Narrators.” College English 25.3. (1963): 177-181. Print.


James Gargano proposes the idea that Poe is suggesting ideas to the readers that perhaps the narrators of his stories never intend to put out for consideration.  He explains that their voices are not the voice of Poe, that they are separate and distinct beings.  He writes of these hidden meanings and claims “through the irony of his characters’ self-betrayal and through the development and arrangement of his dramatic actions, Poe suggests to his readers ideas never entertained by the narrators” (178).  Poe is working like the human subconscious; he is giving his readers images they must decode in order to understand the true meaning of “The Cask of Amontillado.”  Gargano further states that Poe “intends his readers to keep their powers of analysis and judgment ever alert” (178).  This take on Poe’s style is a clear similarity to the way the human brain works during sleep activity.  The hidden meanings and messages of Poe are purposeful and coded so only those who try will see their true form.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.