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The Cast Of Amontillado Essay, Research Paper

Edgar Allen Poe, born on January 19, 1809, is one of the greatest American writers of all time. “The story of Edgar Allen Poe’s life remains one of the most disputed and slandered in the pages of American biography, despite conscious attempts to revise the story and rehabilitate the life. Decadence and immorality, in the form of alcoholism, opium addiction, and his relationships with women, and prolific production, as a journalist, editor, poet, reviewer, critic, and fiction writer, have been emphasized as characterizing his brief life” (Lent 3). Poe’s many writings were greatly affected by his problems in life and his experiences. One such short story is “The Cask of Amontillado.” The main character, Montresor, who is vengeful, intelligent, and fakes sincerity, causes the death of Fortunato.

“The Cask of Amontillado” starts out with Montresor, the narrator, saying, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” Simply by reading the first sentence of the story, it is easy to see that Montresor is vengeful and plans to get “revenge” on Fortunato. Montresor also has a coat of arms which is, “A huge human foot d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel,” with a motto of, “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which stands for no one attacks me with impunity. The coat of arms and the family motto both suggest retribution. The arms symbolize Montresor and Fortunato, Fortunato stepping on Montresor, the snake, and Montresor getting even with Fortunato, the foot.

Not only is Montresor vengeful, he is also very intelligent in his actions. In order to bring Fortunato into the wine cellars, Montresor had to make sure that “there were no attendants at home.” Montresor tells the reader, “They had absconded to make merry in honor of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.” Montresor knew that by telling his servants that he would be gone until the morning they would go to the carnival whether he had told them to stay home or not. Montresor was also a mason and used his skill and intelligence to seal the fate of Fortunato. Montresor had hid building stone and mortar in the cellar under a pile of bones, and had carried a trowel with him. He did such a good job sealing the niche in the wall, where Fortunato stood chained, and replacing the bones that, “For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them.”

In the story, Montresor is two-faced and fakes his sincerity towards Fortunato. Montresor does this by flattering and acting concerned about the health of Fortunato when really his only concern is killing Fortunato. While in the wine cellar, Montresor says to Fortunato, “Come, we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi-.” Montresor does an excellent job of being Fortunatos’ friend and at the same time convinces him to continue drinking and telling him, “A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps.” Montresor was not trying to defend either one of them, his only purpose was to place Fortunato into a higher state of drunkenness. Montresor causes Fortunato to become so drunk that while he was being chained to the wall by Montresor, “He was too much astounded to resist.”

“The Cask of Amontillado” is filled with many ironies and also life lessons; such as know who your real friends are. Fortunato thought his real friend was Montresor when, in reality, Montresor was anything but his friend. Not only did Montresor fake his sincerity towards Fortunato, he was also vengeful and very intelligent in his actions to kill Fortunato.


Lent, John A. “Edgar Allen Poe.” Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 73: American Magazine Journalists. 1988. 235 – 251. The Gale Group. Pellissippi State Technical Community Coll. Lib., Knoxville. 9 July 2000. .

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 5th ed. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1998. 277 – 281.

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