Unhinged Mind Set-
Justice is a nebulous concept. It is something, which almost everyone agrees is noble, but few people can agree what it is. One person's justice is not another's. One can believe that killing is always wrong; whereas someone else can believe, it can be justified when it is in the pursuit of a higher good and done according to law. It is an irreconcilable difference of opinion. Sometimes we can blind ourselves to the essential truths and use 'justice' as an excuse to justify what we have done. In the two texts, A Vendetta and The Cask of Amontillado, the two main characters both sought the illusive idea of justice in their own way, through enacting a plot of revenge, in order to right a wrongdoing committed by the victim. Although, these actions seemed quite justified to the main characters, there is a difference between what they did, which is considered vengeance, and justice. Justice is vengeance condoned by society.
The story of The Cask of Amontillado is one where another character, Fortunato, has insulted the main character, Montresor, repeatedly. He thus vows revenge upon him and the rest of the story entails Montresor effecting his revenge on him. In the end, Fortunato is trapped inside the depths of Montresor's vaults, lured by the temptations of a rare specimen of wine, the Amontillado. Montresor demonstrates his lust for revenge throughout the story through ironic humour, foreshadowing his plot of revenge and Fortunato’s death. An example of symbolism is Montresor’s family emblem, "Nemo me impune lacessit": Fortunato comments on the Montresor family motto and emblem. This phrase means ‘nobody harms me without being punished’. It is symbolic of what happens to Fortunato. As the emblem depicts a snake biting a man’s heel and is consequently crushed, this represents how Fortunato has wounded Montresor's pride and Montresor kills Fortunato in the most diabolical manner. In A Vendetta, the widow, in order to achieve 'justice’, trains a dog to murder and leads it to Ravolati, whose throat is torn out by the canine and the Widow successfully avenges her son. The dummy, which the widow uses to train the dog, is a representation of Ravolati, and as the dog is trained to viciously rip out its throat, the widow is pleased.
In A Vendetta, connotations of tragedy and death are constant throughout the story: ‘Then Semillante began to howl again with a long, monotonous, penetrating, horrible howl.’ The sorrow howl follows after the widow discovers her son is dead. The howl implies that a great tragedy has ensued and both the canine and widow are mourning. Similarly, in The Cask of Amontillado irony is used to connote the plot of revenge about to occur. Montresor and Fortunato refer to nitre several times. Montresor calls it "the white web work which gleams from these cavern walls." The nitre, therefore, implies that the web is the trap Montresor has set for his victim. Connotations weaved into the sentence structure of ‘A Vendetta’ create a sombre tone whereas Poe often uses this to emphasise the irony of the situation.
Poe's usage of colour imagery is crucial to his enquiring of Montresor's motives. He wears a silk black mask which represents the contradictory of blind justice, that is, biased revenge. In comparison, Fortunato has a costume similar to a fool or a joker and is (ironically) fooled by Montresor's concealed motives. As the two descend into Montresor's vaults, the constant allusion to the bones lining the walls foreshadows the story's descent into darker themes and is a metaphor for their trip to hell. Imagery used in ‘A Vendetta’ adds to the morbidity of revenge. As the dog attacks Ravolati, figurative language is used to emphasise the foreboding situation; “Then he stopped moving, while Semillante dug her fangs into his throat and tore it to ribbons.” Under serious stimulation, we tend to commit absurd actions that we never imagined we could. These actions are done with the purpose of getting what we believe is an eye for an eye- vengeance. Some actions- such as being vindictive can be destructive and could potentially become a serious obsession. With an unhinged mind set-, we cannot only become destructive or dangerous towards others-but also towards ourselves, our morals and ethical beliefs are seemingly absent. Maupassant challenges the reader, through his writing, to sympathise with the widow, despite the reader’s own ethical and social reservations. The conflict in this story can be perceived as both external and internal. Not only is it the Widow's vendetta against the murderer of her son, but also an internal struggle within herself to fulfil her promise to Antoine, in order to finally get a good night's sleep. Similarly, in The Cask of Amontillado Poe uses a subtle style, tone, serious themes and subconscious motivation of characters to shift his readers towards a demented point of view in which Montresor has named himself judge, jury and executioner in his tale of revenge, making him an unreliable narrator.
Although ‘A Vendetta’ and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ both have many similarities, they also have some differences between the two texts. Although the theme shared by the texts is the same, each of the poems have their own styles to shape the reader’s understanding of the common theme of revenge and justice. Maupassant mostly uses a realistic tone to aid the reader in understanding or empathising with the widow. By using realism, he is able to emphasise the more morbid theme of vengeance throughout the story. Poe however, mostly uses ironic humour and foreshadowing to connote the character’s hidden intentions of revenge. Every sentence in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is structured carefully to imply a hidden meaning or add more context to the story, without wasting a single word. ‘A Vendetta’ by Guy de Maupassant and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe both explore and shape the common theme of revenge and justice through their different styles of writing.