Cask of Amontillado

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For my presentation, I discussed Poe’s story as a sort of dream, and that Montresor himself my in fact be dreaming the very events that unfold.  By taking into account the ideas of compression, as well as others, it is possible to interpret “The Cask of Amontillado” using the methods of dream analysis employed by Freud.  By noting that Poe argued that everything he wrote in his stories was done for a purpose, the omission of certain events must also been seen as something that has been done with a specific intent.  Montresor does not have a stated, explicit reason for murdering Fortunato.  He only makes claim of the “thousand injuries” that he has supposedly suffered.  In dreams, the relevant information is projected by the subconscious, and all other information is left out.  Perhaps this is what Montresor is experiencing; he is dreaming that after the difficulties of their relationship, he is finally getting to release some aggression in a fantasy that takes place within his own mind.  In addition, perhaps the whole murder of Fortunato is a symbol for the death of their relationship.  Montresor can be of the opinion that Fortunato is to blame, and that he will get vengeance for the deterioration of the friendship.  He is the last person seen with Fortunato, during carnival season in Italy.  It is hard to believe that no one would question him about the man’s disappearance.  He also gives his former friend ample opportunity to turn back from his fate as they head down to the catacombs.  This can be viewed as Montresor hoping for his friend to turn back the events of their lives, and get things back to the way they were.  All in all, the idea of “The Cask of Amontillado” as a dream in the mind of Montresor is truly compelling.

 

Another way to interpret “The Cask of Amontillado” is to look at the story as a sort of modern day myth.  According to Levi-Strauss, myths contain personified versions of abstract ideas.  Well then, it is easy to imagine that Montresor is the very embodiment of revenge.  He is the cool hand of fate, sweeping down on the supposedly malicious Fortunato for all the wrongs he has committed against Montresor.  Fortunato himself is the personification of capriciousness, and thoughtlessness as he freely insults and verbally attacks his “friend” while still readily abusing his hospitality for free wine.  To be a symbol of this general idea and human invention, perpetuates the myth of vengeance as a legitimate reaction to the unfortunate actions of other human beings.  Many revenge tales have existed in the course of humanity’s existence on Earth.  Many modern adaptions of this form exist as movies, such as Westerns like True Grit.  With the rise of Gothic literature in America, of which Poe was a main proponent, the idea for a dark, sinister tale of revenge seems like what was at the time, a similar update of the revenge tale.  Myths deal with common ideas and experiences that all human beings are capable of understanding.  What is stronger than the need for a righting of the wrong that exists in one’s very life?  Montresor acts much like an earlier counterpart to Batman, another modern myth dealing with vengeance, except instead of fighting for the justice of all people, his motives are more selfish and self-centered.  By focusing on the abstracts that Montresor and Foruntato  may represent, Poe has created a story that personifies and localizes the concept of revenge in a manner that while very dark, is also extremely entertaining.

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