PRICE OF REVENGE

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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The Price of Revenge Revenge is an emotion that everyone feels. Edgar Allan Poe¡¯s story, ¡°The Cask of Amontillado¡± shows how revenge can become a very destructive emotion. The main character of this story, Montresor, believes that he will enjoy getting revenge against his enemy, Fortunato. Yet, the main theme of the story is that revenge sometimes destroys the person who wants revenge. Montresor does not get away with the revenge that he wants against enemy, but instead he suffers because he wants revenge.

In the first paragraph of the story, Montresor says what he believes is definition of revenge. First he says: ¡°I must not only punish but punish with impunity.¡± The word ¡°impunity¡± means without punishment. This shows that Montresor believes that real revenge means the person who wants to get revenge is not punished because he gets revenge. In other words, if the person who wants the revenge gets punished, there really has not been true revenge.

Then Montresor gives a second meaning of revenge: ¡°It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.¡± Montresor is saying that there is real revenge only when the victim of revenge knows that he or she has been punished.

Before the end of the story, Montresor seems to get the revenge that he wants according to his definition of revenge. When he gets Fortunato to go down into his secret cellar, Montresor seems to be committing the perfect crime. No one will know where Fortunato will be killed because the cellar is hidden. So, it looks like Montresor will not be punished for his revenge, and no punishment is the first part of his definition of revenge. Also, Montresor gets to reveal to Fortunato that Montresor is going to torture Fortunato by putting him behind the brick wall until he dies. This fulfills the second part of Montresor¡¯s definition of revenge because Fortunato will know that Montresor is punishing him.

But ironically Montresor does not get true revenge according to his definition. This ironic idea is set up throughout the story by the many ironies in the story. For example, it is ironic that the person who is going to be killed is wearing clown clothes. When people think about clowns, they think about laugher and fun. This is the opposite to murder. There is another irony in this story. Montresor gives Fortunato wine, which is a drink, connected to good times. Yet, Monteror uses the wine to get revenge. These two ironies show that this story is full of surprises.

The biggest surprise of the story comes at the end of the story. The reader sees that Motresor really does not get revenge according to his definition. For example, he says: ¡°For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed [the bones],¡± and he says in Latin, ¡°In pace requiescat!¡± But the truth is that Motresor does not have peace for all the years after the death of Fotunato. Actually, Fortunato is the one who has peace in death. This is against the first part of Montresor¡¯s definition of the true revenge because Montresor is the one who has been punished by a lack of peace. Also, Montresor does not fulfill the second part of his definition of revenge. Just before Montresor finishes the brick wall in front of Fortunato, Motresor hears the jingling of the clown¡¯s bells. This shows that Fortunato does not think that he is a victim of Motresor. Therefore, this shows Montresor has not fulfilled the second part of the definition of his revenge because the person he has tried to hurt does not think of himself as a victim. Montresor has failed to get revenge.

Edgar Allan Poe¡¯s story, ¡°The Cask of Amontillado¡± shows that there is no such thing as perfect revenge. Poe seems to want to tell readers that if they seek revenge they may not get it because people who seek revenge always mentally connected the people who they want to hurt and therefore never have peace of mind.