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The Cask of Amontillado

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Annika Skye

on 21 October 2014

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Transcript of The Cask of Amontillado

Main Characters
Fortunato:
A foolish countryman with a penchant for good wine. He prides himself on having extensive knowledge of various wines and is very defensive of his wisdom. He views other Wine Connoisseurs as competitors and will do very irrational activities to prove his superiority. He is dressed in a jesters outfit, this could be symbolic of his later stupidity.
Montressor:
The narrator of the text, he is a vengeful person, and has somehow been offended by Fortunato. He is dressed in a black cape and wears mask hiding his face. This could be symbolic of his untrustworthy demeanor. Montressor is a stone mason, and uses his skills to exact revenge on Fortunato.
Characters
Conflict
The conflict in this story is man vs man, more specifically, Fortunato vs Montressor. Even though Fortunato is not aware of this conflict at first, it drives the entire narrative. A lesser conflict can be seen between Luchresi and Fortunato, it is clear that there is tension between the two characters. This tension drives Fortunato to prove his knowledge of fine wine to Montressor, this eventually leads to his demise.
Setting
It takes place in a nameless european city sometime during the eighteenth century. The city is decorated for a carnival, people mill about dressed in elaborate costumes, this explains why Fortunato is dressed in a jesters outfit and why Montressor wears a mask. Later in the story the characters travel downward Montressors family catacombs. The walls of the catacombs are coated with nitre, a mineral which aggravates Fortunatos cough. Fortunato is then walled inside of a small crypt within the catacombs.
Plot
Exposition:
Montresor feels he has be wronged and insulted by Fortunato and therefore wants revenge in the way of death. He goes onto say how Furtunato is a connoisseure of fine wines and sherry.
Rising Action:
Montresor tells Fortunato that he has found a rare Ammontillado and that he needs help testing whether or not it is an actual amontillado. Montresor goes onto say that he would like Fortunato to help him taste it but he doesn't want to inconvenience him so he asked Luchresi. Funtuanto insists that he comes along because he sees Luchresi as a competetor and doesn't want him to taste it instead of him. Fortunato and Montresor set off to the Montresor vaults, which are damp and filled with nitre. They go to the vaults and then enter the Montresor catacombs where the wine is stored. As they enter the catacomb they are covered in the nitre and Fortunato begins to cough, Montresor gives him a substantial amount of wine to aid his cough and he then gets very drunk. The both of them go on to talk about the Montresor coat of arms and how Fortunato forgot about his heritage. Then Montresor reminds him of the family motto "No one attacks me with impunity". Fortunato drinks some more, and then they discuss their involvment in the masons, montresor being a stone mason, and Fortunato a free mason. They then entire the crypt where Montresor says the wine is located.

Critical Analysis
The Cask of Amontillado

Point of View
Atmosphere/Mood
Symbols
Style/Tone
Irony
Purpose
Theme
Minor Characters
Luchresi:
A character only mentioned by Montressor. He is one who considers himself a wine connoisseur and Fortunato views him as competition. Fortunato determined to not let someone who he considers a fool have access to a great amontillado.
This text is in first person. We experience the events of the story through the narration of Montressor. He recounts the tale in past tense, as though he were telling the story verbally.
There is a dark and untrustworthy mood within this text. The reader feels a sens of unease as the plot furthers. Because the story starts with Montressor talking of revenge, the reader is tense and ready for something violet to happen at any moment. As the setting shifts to the catacombs, the atmosphere turns cold and dank. As Fortunato starts to cough the feeling of dread grows. By the time Montressor actually traps Fortunato there has been so much foreshadowing that the ending does not shock.
The Motif of the story is the amontillado. It is consistently referenced anytime the dialogue starts to change direction. Other symbols include both characters clothing, Fortunato is dressed as a jester, indicating his foolishness. Montressor wears a mask covering most of his face, indicating his shifty actions and possible villainy. The fact that the amontillado is supposedly kept in the family catacombs, where the dead are kept, can be symbolic of Forunato's eventual fate. Fortunato's name is very ironic, as it is an Italian name that implies good fortune. When read with the knowledge of Poe's ironic nature this can again be symbolic of Forunato's despise.
Plot
Climax: Montresor then chains Fortunato the crypt wall around the waste so he cant escape. He then mocks Fortunato by telling him the walls are damp so he should try and get away. Montresor beings to then rebuild the crypt wall and seal in Fortunato forever.
Falling Action: Fortunato begins to come out of his drunk stupor and realizes whats happening to him, He initially starts screaming and begging to be let out, cries which Montresor does not respond to, he just keeps building the wall. Fortunato then thinks its a big joke, but when Montresor then goads him by asking to leave he realizes it is not, Fortunato begs to god to have Montresor let him go, but still Montresor build the wall. Montresor then calls to Furtunato but does not get an answer, so he finishes the wall and puts the bones back in place. He ends by saying "Rest in peace."

Throughout the story verbal and dramatic irony are used to create tension and suspense. Dramatic irony is apparent between fortunato and Montresor, the audience knows early on in the story that Montresor is plotting revenge and plans to kill Fortunato. Fortunato, however doesn't find out about this plan until he is sealed behind the wall, he thinks that him and Montresor are friends. Furthermore the audience and Montresor know that there is in fact no barrel of expensive wine, but Fortunato is lead to believe that there is one, and that he will be able to taste this wine. Verbal irony is used all throughout the story, mainly by Montresor. for example when they are walking through the catacombs and Fortunato begins to cough, Montresor pretends to worry about his friends health. To this Fortunato states that he "wont die off a cough", and Montrersor then goes on to say "True,True", implying he will die in another way, which he does. Later on in the story, when Fortunato is drinking to aid his cough Montresor opens a bottle and toasts to Fortunato's long life. Irony can also been seen in the title of the story, the word cask which implies a barrel of for wine, is derived from the word casket. So Fortunato isn't looking for a cask of wine but instead for his own metaphorical casket. While dramatic irony is used to create suspense, verbal irony is mainly used to mock Fortunato.
Bibliography
http://www.shmoop.com/cask-of-amontillado/title.html
http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/poestories/section11.rhtml
http://www.shmoop.com/cask-of-amontillado/themes.html
Betrayal/Revenge: It is clear in the beginning of the text that Montresor feels like he has been wronged or betrayed by Fortunato. This betrayal fuels Montresor to seek revenge, which sparks the events of the narrative. The reader views many instances where Montresor subtly hints at his plans. He references his family motto, which translates to "No one attacks me with impunity" clearly stating his vengeful morals.
Mortality: Many of Poe's short stories deal with death, and the fragility of life. The very setting of the latter half of the text, Montresors family catacombs, implies that death will occur. The fact that the reader does not see the death of Fortunato, but rather see's him trapped and left to die is likely intentional. Poe wants the reader to see the cruelty with which Montrssor inflicts his friends death.
Foolishness: This theme is obvious from the very beginning as the reader sees Forunato dressed in a jesters costume, which can be construed as the clothing of a fool. Later on we learn that Fortunto's vision is clouded by the promise of amontillado, he is unable to see Montresor's lie. Fortunato's refusal to return to the surface further solidifies his fate. His foolishness in quite important in the outcome of the story.
Poe uses irony liberally in this text. It can be found in almost every line of the story and is used to further the readers understanding of the events. Fore shadowing is also used many times, especially during the exposition. this style adds to the haunting aspect of this narrative. By keeping the reader on they're toes Poe creates a tone of unease that is present throughout the entire narrative. This unease is not unprecedented, given the gruesome ending to the text. The use of these sly hints to the reader allows Poe to accomplish such a well written short story.
The primary purpose in Poe's narrative, is to shock and scare readers. Poe builds up anticipation by writing the exposition and rising action in a very long winded way. He spends a lot of time describing Fortunato's and Montresor's journey to the vaults and their decent into the crypt/catacomb. He does this not only to build anticipation, but to also heighten the shock factor at the end. There is also en element of fear with this story brought on by the setting and overall word choice. He uses words such as damp, dark, cold, to increase the sinister feel. Also because Poe usually writes stories with a surprising or frighting feel, we went into this text with a general idea of what it might be like. Already having that understanding of Poe's work allowed us to fully comprehend the spooky manner in which he writes. Overall Edgar Allen Poe usually writes with the intention of stunning or alarming his readers, this story is no exception.
Edgar Allen Poe
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