The Paradox of Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado

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The Paradox of Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado

?The Cask of Amontillado? raises a question pertaining to the multiple character of the self (Davidson 202); Can harmony of one's self be restored once primal impulses have been acted upon? This question proposes the fantasy of crime without consequence (Stepp 60). Edgar Allan Poe uses first person point of view, vivid symbolism and situational irony to show that because of man's inner self, revenge is ultimately not possible.

Edward Davidson suggests that Montresor, the main character of the story, "has the power of moving downward from his mind or intellectual being and into his brute or physical self and then return again to his intellectual being with his
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Both of these thoughts are developed because of the fact that Montresor is telling the story himself. The means in which Montresor expresses himself expose his insecurities. When he no longer hears Fortunato crying out, he says, "there was a long obstinate silence" (156). The personification of the silence by the use of the word ??obstinate? projects the intent on Fortunato, implying that Fortunato is purposely depriving Montresor of satisfaction. But actually, "Montresor seeks to escape from his own limitations by imagining them as imposed by outside force" (Stepp 61). The force is a surrogate of the self. Every word goes to characterize the narrator, Montresor, and adds to the irony of the story. Fifty years later he is confessing the story and taking particular delight in his cleverness, but is unaware he is revealing a desperate human emptiness. James Gargano makes a general statement about Poe?s narrators that "applies perfectly to The Cask of Amontillado; he says, "Poe assuredly knows what the narrator never suspects and what, by the controlled conditions of the tale, he is not meant to suspect--that the narrator is a victim of his own self-torturing obsessions" (166). In this way, Montresor is a classic Poe character.

Poe's use of symbolism gives the reader the opportunity to see the conflict between Montresor's inner self and his outer being.
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