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How does The Cask of Amontillado use an unreliable narrator?

Question:

How does The Cask of Amontillado use an unreliable narrator?

Unreliable Narrator

An unreliable narrator is one who is revealed to the reader to have been compromised in some way. It could be that the narrator is a liar and is misrepresenting events in the story, or the narrator could be insane and unable to be trusted. Stories that are told by an unreliable narrator are often accompanied by a twist ending, and the reader may not realize the untrustworthiness of the narrator until the end.

Answer and Explanation:

Many scholars believe that Montresor, the narrator in The Cask of Amontillado is insane and thus, an unreliable narrator. While we cannot say for sure whether Poe intended for Montresor to be perceived as insane, we can say that he gives us barely any information regarding the reasoning behind Montresor's overwhelming need for revenge upon Fortunato. Montresor simply explains that Fortunato has insulted him (after injuring him many times) and that he has resolved upon vengeance, and then he goes about that vengeance with a sense of calm rationality that obscures his true purpose. This lack of exposition paired with the horrific events that transpire in the story naturally leads the reader to question not only Montresor's sanity, but also whether Fortunato deserved such a terrible fate.


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Montresor in The Cask of Amontillado: Character Analysis & Overview

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Chapter 3 / Lesson 14
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Montresor is the murderous, vengeful narrator in Edgar Allan Poe's short story, 'The Cask of Amontillado.' In this lesson, you'll analyze this complex character, and you'll have the chance to test your understanding with a quiz.


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