Does petty jealousy give a person reason enough to plot another’s death? Well, in the story “Cask of Amontillado” and the movie Amadeus, this question is answered. In this essay I plan to compare and contrast several character traits of protagonists and themes of these two stories. The men that I’ll be evaluating are Montresor (from “Cask of Amontillado”) and Antonio Salieri (from Amadeus).
One thing that both characters had in common was an antagonist who they vowed revenge upon.
In extensively observing and analyzing both of these stories, I have found that the theme is not jealousy. In fact, in Amadeus, the word hardly ever crossed my mind. The important realization that I made while watching Amadeus was that Salieri’s grudge is with God, not just Mozart. The theme goes much deeper than superficial envy. The meticulous devising and thought that went into both of these men’s plans caused their purpose to focus more on revenge. It wasn’t necessarily that the antagonists did that much to intentionally provoke anger, but that the protagonists had absurd grudges. This hostility that existed in both men exacerbated them to seek revenge and completely ate them up inside. Montresor and Fortunato could have easily been sincere friends, just as Salieri and Mozart could have been as well. It was a fierce anger inside of the two characters that I’m required to compare and contrast that led them to become bitter and spiteful, meticulous, and hypocritical in their behavior.
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The first characteristic revealed in both of these men was their bitterness and spitefulness. The dictionary defines bitter as exhibiting intense animosity (ill will or resentment tending toward active hostility); marked by cynicism and rancor; and expressive of severe pain, grief, or regret. Spite is a malicious, usually petty, desire to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person, or bitter ill will and malice. These definitions are exemplified through the actions of Montresor and Salieri.
Montresor demonstrated these characteristics because he succeeded in persuading Fortunato into the unsafe catacombs with him. Montresor knew that Fortunato’s susceptibility to illness and his taste for wine would lead him into a certain death: the wine vaults. This deceitful act exemplified deep cynicism and rancor. With Salieri and Mozart’s situation, things were different. Salieri had great contempt for God for giving him the lust and desire to become a great musician, but not blessing him with the talent. Mozart was the prime example of the opposite of this. The reason that Salieri took his anger out on Mozart was because Mozart had been blessed with all of the talent while Salieri only had the desire. Salieri also exhibited intense animosity towards Mozart in several ways. Throughout the movie, Salieri becomes frustrated with Mozart for, one, having relations with a talented young lady pupil of Salieri’s, two, Mozart had seemingly endless talent in natural musical ability, and three, Salieri disliked Mozart for winning favor with Vienna and for making Salieri become less popular. Salieri also plans Mozart’s death, but is ultimately not responsible. These were just a few actions that caused Salieri to have such an ill will and resentment for Mozart.
Spite and bitterness can also be observed in what the two characters say, and what others say about them. Montresor says, ” The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” This quote illustrates that Montresor was expressing his severe pain, grief, and later regrets. Montresor also says, “Nemo me impune lacessit.” This phrase means No one can provoke me and get away with it. This quote clearly describes Montresor’s feelings about this situation. He is trying to warn Fortunato that he’s headed for certain death. Yet, Montresor uses Luchesi as the subject instead of coming right out and telling Fortunato that the grudge that Montresor has is actually with Fortunato! Fortunato doesn’t say anything that implies or clearly reveals any characteristics about Montresor throughout the story. Fortunato is simply enthusiastic about accompanying his friend to retrieve the Amontillado. In Amadeus, Salieri says several things that demonstrate bitterness. He says, “Everybody liked meâ€¦ until he [Mozart] came.” and later “From now on, we are enemies.” and “What was God up to? My heart was filling up with such hatred for that little man! For the first time in my life, I began to know really violent thoughts.” These quotes describe Salieri’s bitter character. Salieri had contempt for God and this phrase illustrates that, “That was God laughing at me through that obscene giggleâ€¦ Before I leave this earth, I’ll laugh at you [God].” This quote shows how Salieri had vowed revenge on God by killing Mozart. Mozart didn’t say anything that pertained to Salieri’s bitterness, but Mozart’s wife Stanzie could tell that Salieri had an ulterior motive. She even exemplified bitterness herself!
... The obvious ironies are seen in Montresor s dialogue with Fortunato. My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met (19 ... circular. It begins with the thousand injuries of Fortunato I, [Montresor, ] had borne (Poe 18), progresses to ... and their squabbles over money lasted through John s death (Fagin 31-32, 183, 195, 227-28 ... I believe that Montresor may be on his deathbed confessing his sins to God. I believe he ...
My thoughts and feelings on this characteristic are that both men became bitter and spiteful by building up their emotions to a point where exhibiting intense animosity was the only way to relieve their severe pain and grief. In reality, bitter and spiteful people tend to be unforgiving and selfish, concerned with only their own well being. I think that Montresor and Salieri’s behavior is parallel to that of today’s bitter and spiteful people.
The next characteristic that I thought pertained to both men in the stories was meticulousness. Meticulous means timid or fearful; marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details. How was it demonstrated in these stories? Through the actions of Montresor and Salieri, we can see how careful the two men were about planning the demise of their opponents. Montresor took into account that Fortunato had an aesthete in wines. He made up a story about how a mutual friend of each of the men (Luchesi), claimed he had a taste in wine that could match Fortunato’s. This provoked Fortunato to accompany Montresor to the dangerous catacombs saturated with niter. There they would seek out a wine, perhaps fictitious in the story, in order for Fortunato to examine it. Obviously, Montresor took great care in executing the death of his alleged friend. In Amadeus, Salieri was extremely fastidious in plotting Mozart’s death. From the moment that Salieri had learned of Mozart’s presence in the world, Salieri had established a desire. Salieri wished to acquire Mozart’s status- immortality. Salieri prayed to God that one day he could become as great as Mozart.
... to his own death. Fortunato is an Italian friend of Montresor's, and his sworn enemy, whom Montresor has planned to ... Montresor's company, and is unaware that his friend is plotting against him. Fortunato, a respected and feared man, ... . It can be said of Montresor that he is a vengeful man with premeditated murder on his mind ... are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter ...
This innocent admiration and longing soon turned into bitterness, spite, and extreme loathing. Salieri’s position in life and his intemperate aversion for Mozart led to the meticulous planning of his opponent’s demise. Salieri knew that Mozart continually blamed himself for the death of his father, Leopold. Salieri used this despondent piece of information to his advantage. Salieri carefully contrived a plan that consisted of this: Mozart was deeply sorrowed by his father’s death. This inner torment was slowly eating away at Mozart inside, emotionally and physically. Salieri only wanted to achieve the immortal status that Mozart had already acquired hence the reasoning behind this cunning scheme. Now, Salieri didn’t know how to actually do the killing part of Mozart’s death, but fortunately for Salieri, Mozart died from wanton exhaustion. Salieri dressed up in a costume that was identical to the one Leopold wore at one of Mozart’s parties. Salieri proceeded to Mozart’s home and ask if Mozart would be interested in writing a requiem for this mysterious man. Mozart agreed, merely because he desperately needed the money, and began to write this threnody. To Salieri’s pleasure, this musical piece was extracting every bit of energy from Mozart, because Mozart still blamed himself for his father’s death. Hence, the meticulous planning resulted in Mozart’s death.
There were several things that were said that indicated a meticulous character. In the “Cask of Amontillado”, Montresor says that, “You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat.” This quote means that Montresor did not intend to give his ulterior motive away by threatening his opponent. He also says, “I have my doubts, and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.” This quote reveals that Montresor is simply humoring Fortunato. Montresor knows that his companion has a connoisseurship in wine, so Montresor plans to lure him into this trap. The last clever thing that Montresor says is, “And yet some fools will have that his [Luchesi] taste is a match for your own.” This phrase is stated because Montresor wants to provoke his adversary. It works, too. In Amadeus, Salieri reveals his scrupulous strategy when he says; “Only I understood that the horrifying apparition was Leopold, raised from the dead. Wolfgang had summoned his own fatherâ€¦ It was terrifying and wonderful to watchâ€¦And now, the madness began in me, the madness of a man splitting in halfâ€¦ that bitter old man [Leopold] was still possessing his son [Mozart] from beyond the graveâ€¦ and I began to see a way, a terrible way that I could finally triumphâ€¦ over God! My plan was so simple it terrified me.” This lengthy quote illustrates how meticulous Salieri was, but most importantly, a big chunk of piping hot theme! Mozart wasn’t what Salieri hated and wanted to avenge. Salieri wanted to retaliate against God! I’ll talk more about this interesting point when I discuss theme.
... and throughout the story that the outcome will be Montresor getting revenge on Fortunato. The story begins with Montresor vowing revenge on Fortunato for an insult ... the two men arrived seems a little suspicious as well. The ending of the story is very suspenseful and scary. Montresor chains Fortunato to ...
The last characteristic that needs to be addressed is the fact that both characters were extremely hypocritical. Typically, people think of a hypocrite as being a person who says one thing, but does another. For instance, a person who whole-heartedly advocates against drinking or doing drugs but gets drunk and smokes cigarettes every day. Yet, the dictionary defines it as one who affects virtues or qualities he does not have. This characterization describes Montresor and Salieri well, but two-faced is another accurate term that could be used to describe them.
By observing the actions of Montresor in the “Cask of Amontillado”, it becomes evident that he is indeed being completely insincere to his counterpart, Fortunato. Neither by word or action did Montresor give Fortunato any reason to doubt him. Montresor simply continued to be congenial to Fortunato’s face, but Montresor secretly harbored plans for Fortunato’s demise. This situation is worsened by Fortunato’s attitude. Fortunato believes that Montresor is his long-time companion. Montresor nurtures Fortunato’s ego and coaxes him into the catacombs. Later Montresor becomes guilty but blames it on the dampness of his surroundings. Montresor feels horrible for Fortunato’s death and has to suffer for the next fifty years, living a life of guilt. In Amadeus, Salieri is hypocritical for several reasons. Throughout the entire story, Salieri is plotting the demise of Mozart, yet is completely congenial to his face. They exchange a few sarcastic remarks in the beginning, but that is simply because of Mozart’s brazenly rude personality. Salieri’s desire to become a great composer made him admire and wish for the talent of Mozart. The desire soon grew so strong that Salieri prayed to God for it, and from that point on Salieri either praised or blamed the almighty Lord for anything that happened in his life.
... injuries and insults Fortunato had inflicted on Montresor, but he leaves that to our own minds. The story relates a horrible ... of the story so that most readers may sympathize with Fortunato, while a few readers may still empathize with Montresor. Not knowing ... This creates the argument that questions, is Montresor justified in murdering Fortunato? Or is Montresor insane and making a big deal out ...
The two men say several things throughout the story that illustrate how hypocritical they actually were. Montresor says, “It must be understood, that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.” This quote clearly reveals that Montresor had every intention of hiding the truth from his companion. Fortunato finally makes the realization that his friend, Montresor, is not actually his friend when he says, “For the love of God, Montresor!” In Amadeus, Salieri and Mozart exchange words that not only illustrate the two-faced nature of Salieri, but also demonstrate the innocence of Mozart. Salieri says, “God was seeing through this little man, to all the world, unstoppableâ€¦ making my defeat more bitter with every passing bar.” This quote refers to the anguish that Salieri is suffering because Mozart is becoming more successful. Salieri also says, “With that yawn, I saw my defeat turn into a victory.” This quote pertains to the emporer yawning because Mozart’s opera was four hours long.
... sentence that the character telling the story, Montresor, vows revenge. Montresor's target of revenge is Fortunato, but Montresor never specifically says what Fortunato did ... of his revenge on Fortunato planned out. ... seems as if revenge is just part of his nature. Throughout the story, it seems as if Montresor has every bit ...
When Salieri was allowed to conduct it, he cut it down to an hour, and the emporer praised him saying, “This was the best opera yet written.” Mozart later says, “You are so good to me. To come to my opera- you were the only colleague of mine who cameâ€¦ I thought you did not care for my workâ€¦ Forgive me, forgive me.” When Mozart said this to Salieri, irony appeared because little did Mozart know how much that Salieri adored his work, but was so full of hatred that he couldn’t hardly admit it. Also, Mozart is under the delusion that Salieri actually cares for him. Salieri finally tells Mozart that, “You are the greatest composer ever known to me.” This statement reinforces Mozart’s belief that Salieri actually cares for him, making it much easier for Salieri to take advantage of him.
Both of the characters in these stories were good liars and being two-faced came naturally. The guilt was tearing them up on the inside, though. It is sad that one person can become so consumed with anger and revenge that it takes over their entire being. These two poor men wasted valuable portions of their lives worrying about how to kill another. It’s very sad, but true.
The theme of both stories, as I’ve stated earlier, goes much beyond petty jealousy. Revenge affected these two men tremendously. Montresor and Salieri were both remorseful, but it took several decades for their consciences to catch up with them. Their lives are definitely not bettered, happier, or more successful because of this revenge. In fact, the men probably feel worse and less successful- perhaps almost extinct. Salieri explains to the preacher, “Your merciful God: He destroyed his own beloved [Mozart], rather than let a mediocrity share in the smallest part of his glory. He killed Mozart and kept me alive to torture. Thirty-two years of slowly watching myself become extinct. Mediocrity everywhere: I absolve you!” This lengthy quote shows how Salieri regrets plotting Mozart’s death, but it took quite some time for him to establish this remorse. Montresor becomes guilty and remorseful fifty years after Fortunato’s death, but he claims that he’ll continue to “live a life of guilt.” He wishes Fortunato to rest in peace at the end of the story, indicating his sorrow for the act that he’s committed. From these quotes and experiences, the two men have obviously learned that the fruits of revenge are not as sweet as they appear to be.
In extensively observing and analyzing both of these stories, I have found that the theme is not jealousy. The important realization that I made while watching Amadeus was that Salieri’s grudge is with God, not just Mozart. The theme goes much deeper than superficial envy. The meticulous devising and thought that went into both of these men’s plans caused their purpose to focus more on revenge. It wasn’t necessarily that the antagonists did that much to intentionally provoke anger, but that the protagonists had absurd grudges. This hostility that existed in both men exacerbated them to seek revenge and completely ate them up inside. Montresor and Fortunato could have easily been sincere friends, just as Salieri and Mozart could have been as well. The passage of time has affected these men and has taught them that what they did was wrong.
By comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences of Salieri and Montresor in these two stories, three things become evident. One, a person can’t always assume that the obvious surface conflict is the theme of the entire story, two, writing out things and watching a movie several times can help a person to find things that they never knew were there, and three, revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! I loved putting together quotes and actions from these two stories to try and figure out the main idea behind it all. Analyzing and evaluating things can be so challenging! My father and me argued about the theme and why that person did what they did for a while before I finally came to a realization: old cliches don’t always ring true. The next time I hear “Don’t get mad, get evenâ€¦” I’ll indefinitely think twice!