Many famous works by Edgar Allen Poe contain elements of Romanticism. These elements can be anything from nature to the supernatural. Virtually any story from the Romantic period will have a few of these romantic elements. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado showcases many Romantic and psychological elements such as effects of guilt and sin, intuition and emotion over reason and intellect, and imagination as a source of knowledge.
There are many psychological aspects prevalent in The Cask of Amontillado such as the fact that Montresor is a sociopath. This is the main reason as to why Montresor killed Fortunato along with many other men. Stanley Loewen states that sociopaths often tend to be “cold and manipulative in relationships and potentially emotionally abusive”(Characteristics). Montresor was able to manipulate Fortunato into his own death. He was also the least bit unsure about it. He wanted Fortunato to die. He did not care for Fortunato. Being a sociopath has caused Montresor to kill all of these people due to his narcissistic personality and his need to be better than everybody else.
This relates to Romanticism because there are psychological effects of guilt and sin. These psychological effects on Montresor has caused him to perform sin after sin. We know this because towards the end of the story, Fortunato noticed other skulls and crossbones near the wall from previous suspects Montresor has killed. It was at this point that Fortunato knew what was coming.
Due to Montresor’s psychiatric disorder, he tends to put his emotions over logic. This caused him to murder people for selfish reasons. As a sociopath, he viewed highly of himself. Fortunato was seen as a threat to Montresor and he wanted to get rid of him so he could be superior again. In the text, Montresor states “You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat”(The Cask). He claimed that he saw Fortunato as a threat. This is what motivated him to kill Fortunato. Like in many other works of Romanticism, he let his intuition and emotion get in the way of his logic. There are some reasons why Montresor felt threatened by Fortunato. One of these is because he told Montresor that he was not a Mason. This meant that Fortunato thought that he was not good enough to be part of this elitist brotherhood. Also, Fortunato’s name means Fortunate in Italian. Montresor might have felt even more threatened because such a fortunate guy is telling him that he’s not good enough. Montresor states in the beginning of the text that “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne with… upon insult I vowed revenge”(The Cask). Apparently what Fortunato did to Montresor felt like a thousand injuries. Fortunato couldn’t have done something that brutal without knowing about it. Maybe Montresor was overreacting or he took it too personally. If Montresor had more reasoning, he would know not to take it too personally.
Whenever you read a story, you’re only getting the information from the narrator’s point of view. If the story was told in a different perspective, you’d probably have a different opinion. The information that is told in a story is not always reliable depending on who is telling the story. Montresor is deeply offended by Fortunato, making him seem like the antagonist. However, if Fortunato was telling the story, we would see a whole different side of the story. Coming from a sociopath, we don’t know if everything that is taking place is real. We don’t know if he’s a reliable source. Sometimes, the characters use their imagination as a source of knowledge. In this case, it’s an element of Romanticism. We don’t know how reliable Montresor is as a narrator. The whole story could have been his imagination.
There are overall many Romantic elements in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. Some of them have to do with emotion over reason or the psychological effects on guilt and sin. Some have to do with reliability and imagination as a source of knowledge. Montresor’s emotions got the best of him and he killed Fortunato in fear of not being good enough. There were many sociopathic elements as well. He was narcissistic, manipulative, and thought very highly of himself. Anyone who challenged his ego was considered a threat. He used his skills to manipulate Fortunato into his own death, therefore, getting revenge. He wanted Fortunato to feel the same pain that he apparently inflicted on Montresor. It might not have been physical pain, but it hurt him emotionally to the same degree. Not only were there psychological elements in The Cask of Amontillado, but there were also Romantic elements that Poe used in his story.