Poe’s Montresor from “The Cask of Amontillado” is a deeply complex individual. Montresor is vengeful, seeking to get back at an enemy. He is insane and sadistic, causing pain and suffering to Fortunato for his own amusement. He is calm and logical, completely fooling Fortunato and accomplishing what he set out to do in an effective way. Montresor is assuming, taking judgement into his own hands. Finally, Montresor has a conscience. At first glance Montresor can appear to be fairly flat, just a man executing revenge on an enemy, but there is much more to him than that.
Montresor explains that he has been “insulted” and even “injured” by Fortunato. He did not however, take action against Fortunato until the injury occurred. Montresor feels justified in exacting revenge on his enemy Fortunato and is clearly a believer in the merits of revenge, even extreme revenge. He is unable to forgive Fortunato and refuses to confront him with his grievances. The only option that remains for him is to hold a grudge. Montresor begrudges Fortunato. That feeling escalated and snowballed during the period in which the “thousand insults” were delivered. Finally, the “injury” pushes Montresor over the edge; he is no longer content to begrudge Fortunato, instead formulating a plan to end his antagonizer. But why is Montresor so angry with Fortunato?
The answer lies in Montresor’s past. Likely his family was very rich and respected, but some event or series of events led to the collapse of their empire. Montresor alludes to this when he says to Fortunato, “You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was.” Montresor also tells Fortunato about his family as they descend into the depths of his home. He explains to him that, “The Montresors were a great and numerous family.” Considering that Montresor uses the past tense when describing his family, and considering his anger toward Fortunato, it is not a stretch to say that Montresor blames Fortunato for the collapse of his family’s empire. Fortunato now has all the things Montresor has lost, and jealousy becomes part of Montresor’s character. Despite his list of reasons for hating Fortunato, Montresor contains all his emotion, waiting until the right moment, hatching a foolproof plan and nearly ensuring sweet revenge.
Montresor does not reveal his feelings or intentions to anyone until moments before it is too late. He is a very levelheaded killer. Not only is he not hostile toward Fortunato, he remains on good enough terms with him that Fortunato is perfectly willing to taste his wine. Montresor convinces Fortunato to come to his home using a clever blend of reverse psychology and feigned doubt in Fortunato’s wine tasting abilities. By seeming uncertain and even doubtful while jabbing at Fortunato’s pride, Montresor effectively forces Fortunato to comply with his plans. Fortunato believes it...