Madness In The Cask Of Amontillado

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Madness is found everywhere: on the streets, in our neighborhoods, and even in our own families. It is believed to be fairly common that a plea of insanity is brought into the courtroom as a means of justifying some heinous crime. Under that assumption, it is reasonable to conclude that a large proportion of convicted murderers plead insanity to escape the ultimate punishments for their crimes. In reality, less than one percent of felony cases result in a successful plead of insanity (Cevallos). In "The Cask of Amontillado," Edgar Allan Poe tells the tale of the fictional death of Fortunato at the hand of Montresor. Many question the sanity of a man who can internally justify the murder of another without considering other methods of revenge.…show more content…
Bipolar disorder, for example, can cause a person to have "mood episodes" characterized by drastic mood change for extended periods of time (National Institute of Mental Health). Other illnesses can trigger a lack of empathy or remorse in the patient. In a typical mentally ill patient, one would expect to find some degree of depression or even one of the above afflictions. Montresor demonstrates his ability to feel in the closing paragraph: "There came forth in return only a jingling of bells. My heart grew sick- on account of the dampness of the catacombs" (1122). By showing signs of guilt and regret, Montresor further proves his sanity. Earlier in the story, Montresor states "For a brief moment I hesitated - I trembled" (1122). Even before Montresor had finished the task, he was beginning to feel uncertain of whether or not this path was truly one that he wished to take. His hesitation and “trembling” are habits that are usually associated with nervousness and guilt. Montresor's embodiments of guilt and remorse point to the conclusion that Montresor was sane throughout the entirety of "The Cask of Amontillado." Poe's indication of Fortunato's righteousness and Montresor's calculating and thoughtful behaviors implies that Montresor's actions are rooted in a need for revenge rather than madness. Through the constant belittling of those around him, Fortunato supports the assumption that Montresor has valid reasons for desiring revenge. Montresor consistently demonstrates the focus, foresight, and ability to feel that is uncharacteristic a person who suffers from mental illness. "The Cask of Amontillado" ultimately offers a perspective on revenge and murder that is rarely considered by the average
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