An Analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado”
“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, is a story of a man seeking revenge on another man who slighted him in some unknown terrible way. The story progresses through the main character’s plot to remove his friend, and to the end of his friend’s life. In order to better understand the short story, one must look at plot, characters, setting, point of view, and theme.
Montresor – Protagonist
Fortunato – Antagonist
The short story opens with Montresor talking about how his friend, Fortunato, insulted him. As the story unforls, the reader find Montresor heading to a masquerade at Carnival in search of Fortunato. Upon finding him, Montresor starts to tell him how he bought a cask of amontillado from a man but was unsure on if it was really amontillado. Knowing that his friend was quite the self-proclaimed wine enthusiast, he asked him to come check it out and tell him if it was truly amontillado. Fortunato is half drunk and says that they cannot miss the celebrations, in which Montresor replies that he will go find Luchesi instead as maybe he will be more willing to make time. With the mention of Luchesi’s name Fortunato demands he take him to the cask immediately because unlike himself, Luchesi could not tell the difference between a sherry and amontillado. With that, Fortunato and Montresor make their way to Montresors’ palazzo.
One at the house, Montresor explains that he has put the cask under the house, then takes Fortunato into the catacombs under his home filled with the bodies of his deceased relatives. Several times Montresor asks his friend id he would like to return to the surface, as he would not want his dear friend to die of a cough. Fortunato’s response was “the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.” Montresor’s response was “True…” and gives one a hint to the forthcoming death of Fortunato. Montresor gives him some medoc to warm his body and continues down the corridor. All the while, FOrtunato discovers how rich the Montresor family was and still is, and that Montresor is in fact a freemason.
Once at the end of the long hall, Montresor leads Fortunato into a niche at the end of the hall. Fortunato is confused by the abrupt ending to the long hall and begins to knock on the wall where chains and cuffs have been assembled. Catching him off guard, Montresor comes up behind him and turns him around, chaining him to the wall. Fortunato thinks he is playing a game, a simple joke. It is not until Montresor takes out his trowel and heads to the entrance of the niche and starts laying bricks and mortar down to form a wall that Fortunato comprehends his own danger. In his drunken stupor he could only make dull, low cries, but as the alcohol wore off and the wall was being erected Fortunato began to scream loudly.
As Montresor is beginning to lay his last brick he hears Fortunato laugh and say what a good joke he was playing, and that they should get back to the celebrations, as Mrs. Fortunato would be looking for him. Montresor says, “Yes, let us be gone”, and Fortunato screams at him, “For the love of god, Montresor”! Montresor simply repeats Fortunatos’ own exclamation. To his surprise, Montresor does not get a response this time.He calls aloud for Fortunato but still gets no response. Montresor then throws his torch in and all he hears is a jingling of bells, and with that he seals up the final hole and throws old bones in front of his newly erected wall.
Montresor is the protagonist of this short story. The reader learns that Montresor is not his first name but is the name of his family, and that he is a wealthy freemason. The Montresor family is an old Italian family who is very wealthy and lives by the family motto “No one wounds me with impunity”. Fortunato is the antagonist because he insulted Montresor so badly that it cost him his life. One learns that Fortunato is a wine enthusiast, and that is how Montresor lures him away from the party and to his home, and inevitably is left chained to a wall to die of hunger and dehydration.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a first-person narrator story told through the eyes and mouth of Montresor, the protagonist. It takes place in Italy; one can assume that the short story is set around the mid nineteenth century. The characters are obviously of the wealthy, upper class. Most of what the reader knows about the scene of the story only exists outside of the masquerade and under Montresors’ palazzo.
The theme of this particular short story, one would think, is hatred and revenge. Montresor is from a wealthy family, he prbably thinks very highly of himself, and when Fortunato hurts his ego with his insults, his love for his friend turns into hatred. Also, Montresor does not seem to feel any regret about the situation he has planned out, and carries out during the story, that is until he no longer gets a response from Fortunato. He says that his heart feels sick when he gets no reply. This could have been from his prolonged stay underground, or if could have been a response to his once was friend not giving him the luxury of a response.