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“The Cask of Amontillado”

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Background

“The Cask of Amontillado” is a twisted tale written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1841. The setting of the short story takes place in France during the carnival season. “The Cask of Amontillado” follows in the tradition of Poe’s “The Telltale Heart” and “The Pit and the Pendulum” because they all feature a cold-hearted character who commits murder. The tale “The Cask of Amontillado” is based on revenge. The main character of Poe’s short story, Montressor, wants revenge against Fortunato, the man that has insulted him numerous amounts of times. Montressor narrates the story and flashes back to the events of the murder of Fortunato. Poe rarely uses dialogue in his works, but it is utilized in this short story.

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Plot

“The Cask of Amontillado” is a tale based on revenge. Montressor is determined to murder Fortunato in the beginning of the story. He approaches Fortunato and tells him that he has doubts about his taste because, he does not think that the Amontillado wine tastes as good as people say it does. Making Fortunato furious, Montressor tells him that his friend Luchresi will help taste the wine. Fortunato insists that Luchresi does not know a thing about fine wine and he insist that Montressor take him to his wine cellar so he can taste the wine for himself. Montressor is internally satisfied that Fortunato takes his bait and they venture into the Montressor’s tomb-like wine cellar. As the two characters find their way through the dark catacombs, Montressor asks Fortunato if he wants to turn back. Each time Montressor asks, Fortunato ironically tells him that he wants to go on to find the wine cellar. The men reach a small crypt, deep in the catacombs and Montressor proceeds to shackle Fortunato to a stone. Montressor then builds a stone wall that encloses Fortunato inside the crypt. Thinking Montressor is playing a practical joke, Fortunato laughs hysterically as Montressor builds the wall. Realizing that Montressor’s actions are not part of a joke, Fortunato panics. As Montressor finishes the wall, he throws a torch through and opening in the wall and walks away.

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Critical viewpoints

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” does an excellent job establishing irony. Fortunato, for example, puts trust into the man who wants to murder him. In the story, as the two men go through the catacombs, Fortuanto leans on the Montressor for support. Not only does Fortuanto trust Montressor, he thinks Montressor is leading him to the wine cellar to taste Amontillado when in fact he is leading him to his death. Montressor knows that Fortunato has a big ego and he is not going to let Luchresi take his place as a fine wine taster, so he asks Fortunato if he wants to leave the catacombs. For example, when Fortunato coughs, Montressor tells him that they should head back because he does not want to be responsible for his illness. Ironically, Fortunato tells Montressor that his cough is nothing and it won’t kill him when ironically it does. It is also ironic that Fortunato is dressed like jester, wearing bells that invade the silence of the tombs, in the beginning of the story yet, Montressor eventually gets the last laugh at the end of the story. For example, as Montressor builds the stone walls that encloses Fortunato, he hears a laugh. The laugh of Fortunato is no longer a happy, drunk laugh rather, it is a laugh coming from a man gone hysterically crazy because he realizes Montressor’s intentions. Montressor, on the other hand, should be wearing the jester cap because the tables have turned and the joke is on Fortunato.


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