The Friendship between Fortunato and Montresor in The Cask of Amontillado
Picture having to have to satisfy a taste for something that has been long overdue, the taste for the death of a friend. In The Cask of Amontillado Edgar Allen Poe, portrays this idea through Montresor. Although Fortunato and Montresor seem to have an ideal friendship, it is really dysfunctional. The ideal friend, in contrast to Fortunato and Montresor’s friendship, is based upon three fundamental traits: trust, communication, and compassion.
The ideal friend has trust. Trust is important in a relationship because it holds the relationship together and it allows independence. In the story, Poe displays the use of irony when he describes Montresor use the power of knowing that Fortunato needed to be the best of all, particularly in the knowledge for the taste of wine. Montresor mesmerised him with the following statement; “but I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado.” (1) Then, Montresor claims to be on his way to Luchresi, and this is where Forunato boldly interrupts him, “Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.” (2) Fortunato, who had been insulting and upsetting Montresor to the ultimate level, chooses to foolishly trust him and accepts his offer to go to his house and drink with him. In most circumstances, if one were to insult a man and then was invited to his home to drink together, “(we) to your long life,” (3) would not trust him. Fortunato has enough faith in Montresor to drink past his limit and stroll the dim halls of Montresor’s household. It is the catacombs where Fortunato is confined to the wall and buried alive under a wall of bricks. His tragedy was due to his trust in a dishonest and vengeful friend.
Also, the perfect friend has efficient communication skills. George Bernard Shaw states, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Both Fortunato and Montresor have a lack of communication in their friendship. “The thousand injuries of Fortunato had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge ” (1) This line opens the narrative and demonstrates the character of Montresor, the storyteller. A thousand injuries hurt Montresor a thousand times, but he doesn’t inform the reader of any particular thing Fortunato did. The topmost important aspect in communication is listening and being aware of what isn’t said. For example, according to Montresor, Fortunato was ignorant and unaware of how Montresor really felt about him. The topic of miscommunication is further explained throughout the short story. In one part of the narrative, both Montresor and Fortunato misinterpret each other after Fortunato asks if Montresor is of the ‘brotherhood’, to which he replies that he is of the brotherhood and mason. (4) Another example is when Fortunato asks for a sign, Montresor responds with: “producing from beneath the folds of his roquelaire a trowel.” (4) This demonstrates that while Fortunato and Montresor are able to communicate, they still have misunderstandings because both men do not know how to understand and properly communicate with each other.
Finally, the ideal friend has compassion for one another. In Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor displays a lack of compassion as he witnesses the death of his friend, Fortunato. As Fortunato is about to perish he conveys, “for the love of God, Montresor!” which Montresor than echoes back to him, (“Yes” I said, ‘for the love of God!’). Though both men have been passing bones and skulls, neither man came to talk about ‘The Divine’ until this moment. Fortunato presents a christian appeal to mercy as a final endeavor to convince Montresor to let him go.This means that when Montresor echoes back to him, he is refusing that request and declaring the dark benefit of ‘punishing’ Fortunato as a manner of pleasing God. Furthermore, it can be concluded that Montresor saw his actions as a successful act of vengeance, rather than a crime.
The role of an ideal friend is a complex one which involves many traits, specifically maintaining a trustworthy relationship, communicating on an equal level, and having a hint of compassion. Had Montresor spent more time trying to communicate his true feelings to Fortunato, perhaps Fortunato would still be alive and possibly could become a fitting friend to Montresor. Sadly, he did not. Thus, one can definitely learn from his example of how to be an ideal friend, and by doing so, avoid his mistakes and become the perfect companion.
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