Lack of a Superego Impacts Montressor's Behavior in Poe's The Cask of Amontillado

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Lack of a Superego Impacts Montressor's Behavior in Poe's The Cask of Amontillado

Most readers would agree that Montressor, the protagonist in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", is mad to at least some degree. Is Montressor merely a twisted individual bent upon revenge or a man who lacks a superego? Assuming the latter is true, Fortunato was perhaps doomed for no reason discernable to someone possessing an ordered subconscious in which the superego assists the ego in policing the id. The injuries and insults visited by him upon Montressor might have been based on something so trivial as to confound the average man, or perhaps they existed only in the mind of the madman.

Poe is renowned for his authorship of tales dealing with
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They are his resolute attempts to find a clue to the invisible world." Though Poe lacked knowledge of Freud's theories of the subconscious, his writing demonstrates a fundamental understanding of the sociopathic mind.

It would seem that Poe's protagonist in "Cask" is not simply a man interested in righting an injustice, but indeed a sociopath, devoid of sympathy and even delighting in his victims plight, as demonstrated by his enjoyment of Fortunato's struggles against his chains: "I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labors and sat down upon the bones." When Fortunato begins to scream, his only concern is whether someone will hear: "For a brief moment, I hesitated, I trembled...but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied." Once Montressor is satisfied that no one can hear beyond the catacombs, all concern with the consequences of his actions vanishes.

Though no rational person would condone Montressor's actions, there are times when we all feel the desire to do something from which conscience restrains us. As humans, we are all capable of hatred, jealousy, pettiness, and a cornucopia of other unsavory emotions that, were we lacking in

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