Study Guide for "The Cask of Amontillado" written by:
Furthermore, it conforms to and illustrates perfectly many of Poe's literary theories about the nature of the short story: Finally, every line and comment contributes to the totality or unity of effect that Poe sought to achieve. The plot is quite simple. The first-person narrator, whom we later discover to be named Montresor, announces immediately that someone named Fortunato has injured him repeatedly and has recently insulted him.
Montresor can stand no more; he vows revenge upon Fortunato. The remainder of the story deals with Montresor's methods of entrapping Fortunato and effecting his revenge upon the unfortunate Fortunato. Foremost is the fact that Montresor has never let Fortunato know of his hatred.
Accordingly, one evening during carnival time, a time when much frivolity and celebration would be taking place, Montresor set his fiendish, mad plan into motion with full confidence that he would never be discovered.
In fact, at the end of the story, we, the readers, are certain that his atrocity will never be discovered. Knowing that Fortunato considered himself a great expert, or connoisseur, of fine wines, and especially a devotee of a sherry known as Amontillado, Montresor flattered him by obsequiously asking his opinion on a newly acquired cask of Amontillado.
He tantalized Fortunato with the rare liquor, even pretending that his vaults where the wine was stored had too much dampness and "nitre" for Fortunato's afffiction. However, Fortunato was determined to taste the wine and insisted on being taken to Montresor's home. Montresor complied while wrapping himself in a cloak to make sure that he would not be recognized.
Earlier, he had let all of the servants off for the night, using the excuse of the carnival; in this way he would avoid arousing Fortunato's suspicions and would also prevent anyone from witnessing the atrocity he planned to commit.
Apparently, Montresor had been planning this revenge for a long time and, ironically, had chosen carnival time as the setting for this most horrible type of crime.
Amid the gaiety of the carnival, he was sure he would avoid any possibility of being detected. As they descended into the vaults, Fortunato walked unsteadily and the "bells upon his cap jingled" as they descended, creating a further carnival atmosphere or a joyous time, a time which will ironically end soon with the living death of the unfortunate Fortunato.
As they passed deeper into the vaults, the nitre caused Fortunato to cough constantly, but he was drunkenly determined to continue. At one point, however, Montresor paused and offered Fortunato a bottle of Medoc wine to help ward off the cold and the fumes of the nitre.
This seemingly kind act, of course, carries undertones of the most vicious irony, since what appears to be an act of kindness is only an act performed to keep the victim alive long enough to get him to the niche where he will be buried alive.
Fortunato drank the Medoc and once again became boisterous and once more "his bells jingled. This statement, at the time of the story's setting, would be yet one more of the many blatant insults for which Montresor hates Fortunato.
He states that his family's coat of arms has on it "a huge human foot d'or [foot of gold], in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel" and that the family motto is "Nemo me impune lacessit" No one attacks me with impunity.
Thus, both the motto and the coat of arms imply that the entire Montresor family history is filled with acts of revenge. As the two men proceeded further along the tunnels, the cold and the nitre fumes increased, and Fortunato asked for another drink.
Montresor gave him a bottle of De Grave, which Fortunato emptied and then tossed the bottle into the air with a certain symbolic gesture. At this point, Fortunato was sure that Montresor didn't understand the gesture because it belonged to the secret order of the masons — an order that Fortunato was certain that Montresor couldn't belong to, thus flinging Montresor another insult and, unknowingly, bringing himself closer to his living death.
Fortunato then showed him a sign of the masons — a trowel, which he brought with him. This is, of course, a double irony since the trowel is not only an instrument used by real masons bricklayers, stone masons, etc.In this paper we will work on his short story “The Cask of Amontillado”.
It is a great tale of suspense and revenge. We will analyze its aesthetic elements and work on the theory of irony that Poe describes so cleverly in this story.
Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," doubles as an essay on how to get revenge. Fortunato in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" gets what he deserves. Montresor's use of irony in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" demonstrates that the crime he narrates never actually took place.
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