Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Cask

"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." "The Cask of Amontillado" Edgar Allan Poe 1846.
Welcome to what should be technically the end of the hero of the day parade, today is number 365 on our list, and even though there have been no hero days, and multiple hero days, I was going for one day on average. With today's hero (soon to be revealed) we are at the 365 mark. However, since I love my readers (both of you) so very much, I promised 366, a sort of one to grow on hero, or one for a leap year hero, and tomorrow I will provide number 366. He (for it is a he) is already picked out, and the post is almost completely written, in my head at least. However, before we unveil our "last" hero, we have to deal with the day in front of us.
The hero of this particular day is the man quoted above (not Poe, but his character) his name is Montresor, and since he is fictional, we will give his birthday as sometime in November, 1846 since that is the date "The Cask of Amontillado" was first published.
Our hero is an Italian nobleman, and lives in an unnamed Italian town, and has a grudge against another nobleman by the name of (you guessed it) Fortunato. Montresor is telling this tale of how he revenged himself upon his enemy 50 years later, and we assume while still at liberty. The story is wonderful, and I will only attempt a brief summing up of it, read it yourself for the full effect. During Carnival, Montresor tells Fortunato that he has recently acquired a pipe of Amontillado, which is a rare sherry wine, and claims he wants Fortunato's expert opinion on the vintage. He invites Fortunato to test the wine that is stored in the Montresor family wine cellar, Fortunato, all dressed up for Carnival in jester's motley, agrees, and off they go to test the wine.
Along the way, Montresor gives hints as to his real motive for luring his victim to his wine cellar, but Fortunato just isn't catching onto them. They arrive at the location where the wine is stored, a niche in the wall, and Fortunato enters looking for the booze. Montresor quickly chains Fortunato to the wall, and begins bricking up the niche with a handy trowel that he just brought along in case of emergency (one of those aforementioned hints). While bricking up his rival, Montresor pauses a few times to listen to Fortunato's screams, and cries for mercy. Finally, Fortunato, all sobered up now, pleads "For the love of God, Montresor!" To which Montresor replies "Yes, for the love of God!" He then drops his torch into the niche, and lays the last brick. Thus ends Fortunato. When know from the story that Montresor is relating this story 50 years later, and that he has never been caught or punished for his crime. Thus, in some respects he got away with murder.
It is a revenge story, a story of a man pushed too far. The "thousand injuries" are never explained, but they could be any number of things. From the petty, to the outrageous, you never know what other people are going to take offense to. The "insult" is not described either, but it was the last straw for Montresor, the final slight that he could not allow to pass. His revenge, so expertly plotted, is pulled off without a hitch, and he got away with it.
I understand that many people would consider Montresor more of a villain of the day candidate, but I have (as usual) a different view. We all have our Fortunatos, the one (hopefully just one) person that just seems to get out of bed in the morning to make your life as miserable as possible. I have them, you have them, we all do. The best thing we can hope for is that our Fortunato does not have the power to achieve his goal of making your life hell. If he or, she does then you are screwed. Bricking people up in the family wine cellar has mostly fallen out of fashion these days, and would require you to HAVE a family wine cellar (which I do not). So, your Fortunato is probably going to be spared the fate that Montresor provided.
One alternative strategy (and the one I am beginning to advocate) is to brick up yourself. Not literally of course, but figuratively speaking. Seal yourself (the real self that you possess) off from your Fortunato, and never allow him/her past the wall you have erected. It will be tough, and you have to be exceedingly careful to make sure you don't brick out the rest of the world as well. Those injuries and insults you have borne probably hurt, but you have to "keep a stiff upper lip" and not allow your Fortunato to become aware of their success. If he/she finds out something that they know wounds you, they will pound you with it mercilessly. Make sure you use some sturdy bricks, and some high grade mortar, because once your Fortunato knows you are walled off, they will probably redouble their efforts to get to you. I wish you luck.
So, for providing us a blueprint for revenge, even if it might be frowned upon today, and getting his revenge, Montresor (November, 1846-present), you are my (365th) hero of the day. Nemo me impune lacessit.

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