Unreliable Narrator In The Cask Of Amontillado

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Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846) is narrated by Montressor. He is a gothic narrator, as his motives are associated with revenge and mental instability. In fact, the story opens with Montressor’s description of revenge of his friend Fortunato, who supposedly “insulted” him, and he lures Fortunato to his family’s catacombs for his death. However, Montressor is unwilling to reveal Fortunato’s insult and he is uncertain of why he wants to commit the horrendous act. Montressor’s narration is unreliable, and as the story unfolds we deduce his mental state. By carefully analyzing the tale, Montressor’s psychological dilemma encourages us to find the missing pieces of the puzzle and interpret the events in a metaphorical sense suggesting that the events are far less associated with revenge but more with Montressor’s guilt. Poe portrays the psychotic state of Montressor using the technique of an unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is a character that cannot be trusted. Many times the perspective of the narration is from the first person point of view and is usually biased, as this portrays the motives of the narrator. From Montressor’s words, we as readers can sympathize with him or even see him as a fool. He has a paranoid state when the story opens as shown in the lines, “You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat”(231). The “You” is ambiguous, it can be interpreted as if Montressor is
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