The Cask of Amontillado
Revenge is a dish best served cold. Montresor, the narrator of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” certainly would have agreed with that sentiment. Montresor comes from a family that has been ostracized by the prestigious Masons. Fortunato, a prominent mason, made sure through numerous insults that Montresor was very aware of this ostracism. The embarrassment and humiliation that Montresor feels causes him to seek revenge against Fortunato. The intensity of the shame that Montresor feels becomes evident in the manner in which he seeks (and gains) his revenge.
Montresor feels wronged because of “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne…” and “…but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” The Masons had condemned Montresor’s family, and inflicting humiliation, in Montresor’s estimate, is a justifiable enough cause to seek mortal revenge. Poe lets the reader know that Montresor wants to make himself known to Fortunato as an “avenger” of a “wrong”. What Fortunato doesn’t realize (or take seriously) is that just because Montresor and his family have been shunned by the Masons, doesn’t mean that Montresor is incapable of using some “tricks of the trade” against him in what proves to be quite a well-executed plot.
Montresor’s plan was to use his outward admiration of Fortunato against him. During the hustle and bustle of carnival season, Montresor invites Fortunato to his home to sample a “pipe of what passes for Amontillado”, an exquisite and rare sherry. Fortunato accepts the invitation, and the two head for Montresor’s vaults. Montresor keeps giving Fortunato more to drink along the way, supposedly to help with a cough. When the two reach the basement where the phantom cask lies, Fortunato is sufficiently drunk. The stage for revenge is now set.