The Cask of Amontillado
by Edgar Allan Poe
At first glance, Fortunato seems easier to identify with than Montresor. It’s much simpler to relate to the victim than to the victimizer. But, in some ways, he seems even more foreign to the reader than Montresor. Part of this is because Montresor is telling us the story, and he doesn’t give us much information on his prey.
As you surely noticed, Montresor doesn’t tell us how Fortunato hurt him, nor how he insulted him. So we can’t really say whether Fortunato’s punishment fits his crime.
If we get hung up on trying to figure out if Fortunato deserved to die that way, we might miss out on one of the story’s biggest riddles: just what are Fortunato’s weak points? Montresor gives us his opinion − Fortunato’s a little too conceited about his knowledge of wine − but that’s not his only fatal flaw.
Why would we want to identify Fortunato’s weaknesses? Because, on some level, they probably mirror our own. If we can see ourselves in Fortunato, maybe we can learn something from the story. Luckily for us, Fortunato seems to be weak points personified, so his weaknesses are easy to spot. Here are a few of them, but we bet you can add to the list.
Fortunato is addicted to wine. He’s already really drunk when he meets Montresor, and he thinks the Amontillado can help him take it to the next level. Right up until the end, he thinks of Amontillado, and only Amontillado. Plus, he lets Montresor get him get even more drunk down in the catacomb. His addiction leaves him vulnerable to Montresor’s attack.
Whether he really hurt and insulted Montresor or not, he’s so insensitive, he doesn’t notice that Montresor is mad at him, something any fool can see. And he just guzzles Montresor’s wine without even saying “thank you.” Because he’s so insensitive, he’s a poor judge of character.
Pride and Greed
He’s either too proud or too greedy. Maybe Montresor doesn’t need to bring up Luchesi to get Fortunato down in the hole, but it doesn’t hurt. Fortunato either wants to prove that he’s a better wine taster than Luchesi, or he wants to make sure Luchesi doesn’t get his hands on the Amontillado.
Being too trusting can be a weakness – if you hang out with guys like Montresor. Montresor says he made sure Fortunato had no reason to doubt him. But still, Fortunato should know better than to follow a masked man into a catacomb. Hasn’t he ever watched a horror movie?