The Cask of Amontillado is a story of revenge and a case of insult leading to injury. The question is, does insult actually deserve injury? Edgar Allen Poe takes the reader through a journey of deceit as the lead character, Montresor, leads Fortunato, a drunken, arrogant man, through a maze of enticements and ultimately to a premature death. Most would agree that murder is not an acceptable response to any act of insult but Montresor has predetermined that death is to be Fortunato's payback for his crime of insults. .
I began this story sympathizing with Montresor. His ultimate plan was not clear until the very end. Although, I understood that some form of revenge would come. From a statement in the first sentence, "I vowed revenge," it was clear that Montresor was out to right what he imagined was a wrong. An although cunning and evil, he continued to remain level headed throughout the story, even as he was enclosing Fortunato in a walled grave. .
Montresor's insanity goes deeper than a spontaneous act of revenge though. It becomes obvious that he has planned this act out carefully: "There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honor of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning . . . . .These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance." .
Montresor knew he would have the house to himself for the entirety of the evening. He led Fortunato through the house into a dark and damp underground vault where the image of death becomes clearer and clearer as they walk. There are cobwebbed walls, human remains strewn about on the floor, and an odor of nitrous oxide in the air. It becomes very clear that Montresor has killed before. But even with these signs of impending doom, Fortunato does not realize that he is headed for death.
As they reach the end, Montresor chains Fortunato to a wall in the back of the vault.