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Word Count: 1,333
Among Poes most intriguing tales is The Cask of Amontillado first published in Godeys Ladys Book in November of 1847 A surface reading of that story reveals only a simple description by Montresor the narrator of how he kills another man who was called ironically Fortunato Montresor exploits Fortunatos vanity concerning the connoiseurship of wine specifically Montresor pretends to want a wine cask of Amontillado verified as genuine Montresor chooses a time when Fortunato is drunk to dupe him into going down the spiral stairs into the catacombs which serve as a sort of family burial grounds for the race of Montresors But rather than a mere cask of wine Fortunato finds his death for Montresor bricks him into a niche of the catacombs which has remained undisturbed for the fifty years since the murder was performed How simple How simple indeed--at least until we examine a group of irreconcilable paradoxes in the story To begin with the names Montresor and Fortunato are synonymous Hoffman 223 Secondly we find that the motive for the crime was some unnamed insult Motives for killing someone should be important enough to detail Why does Poe have Montresor gloss over the motives One view is that Montresor relates the details of the murder not to justify his actions but as a form of confession But if this be confession where is the regret Again Poe leaves his readers mystified concerning the time and location for issuance of the narrative voice If Montresor still lives he must be a very old man If so the phantasms of his deed may have horrified him all of his life Then why does he not seem horrified If this be confession then why does he seem not penitent Perhaps Montresor is coerced to confess his crime by his own imp like the narrator of Poes tale The Imp of the Perverse who lives for a time in apparent peace with his conscience only
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