Cask Of Amontillado

In "The Cask of Amontillado" Edgar Allan Poe takes us on a trip into the
mind of a mad man. The story relates a horrible revenge made even more horrible
by the fact that the vengeance is being taken when no real offense had been
given. Even though this is a short story, Poe creates a nightmare, almost
guaranteed to give the reader a sleepless night. The plot of the story is
simple. Montresor takes revenge on his friend Fortunato by luring him into the
tunnels under the family estate. There he leads Fortunato into the depths of the
catacombs where he buries him alive by walling him into a recess in the wall.

The story is told in first person from the point of view of Montresor himself.

The exposition of the story occurs when Montresor tells us that he wants to take
revenge on Fortunato because "he ventured upon insult"(191). We also learn
that he intends to go unpunished for this act of vengeance. The narrator informs
us that he is going to continue to smile in Fortunato’s face, but use the
pride his victim has in wine to lure him into the catacombs to taste some of his
non- existent amontillado. At this point, the reader knows the conflict will be
one of man versus man. It is an external struggle because Fortunato and

Montresor are in a life and death fight. However, the conflict is largely
internal, because Montresor has a fierce hatred that Fortunato is unaware of.

The narrative hook seems to occur when Fortunato follows Montresor into the
vault. Even if the reader was confused by the language of the first paragraph or
is puzzled by the motive of the narrator, he/she is curious to know what will
happen next. Knowing that revenge is at hand the reader wonders what it will be.

Why is he taking him underground? The climax of the story is when Montresor
chains Fortunato to the wall and begins to layer the bricks. It is the high
point of emotional involvement. It is at this point that the reader may ask
themselves if this is really about to happen. The conclusion lets us know that

Montresor was never punished for this crime. Fifty years has passed and he is an
old man telling the story on his deathbed. The true horror is that Fortunato
died a terrible death, utterly alone, and his killer was never brought to
justice. Perhaps the theme in the story is the least important feature. After
all, it is about a senseless crime, and what sense can be made of such horror?

Perhaps the idea behind the story is that no one can find refuge from a deranged
mind, or that terrible crimes can be committed when an imaginary offense can
fester into a deep hatred. Perhaps Poe is saying that there have always been
great crimes that go unsolved. How many undiscovered remains are there in the
walls of medieval buildings? In this story the character of Montresor is
revealed through his own words. When he reveals he is going to punish Fortunato
for merely insulting him, that he has planned the whole act of vengeance, and
that he has been playing as being Fortunato’s friend, we know we are dealing
with a demented personality. His character is also revealed with references to
his family. It is almost as if Poe has Montresor’s ancestors tell the reader
how nicely he fits into the family tree. His legacy from his family motto "No
one attacks me with impunity"(193) and a coat of arms that depicts a serpent
whose last wish before death is to poison the foot that crushed it. Does the
fruit of ever fall far from the tree? Montresor is as evil as his forebears
were. He shows no remorse about what he has done, even in old age. When he says,

"May he rest in peace"(196) at the end of the story, the reader gets the
feeling he means, " I hope you stay there and rot" rather than, "I hope
you found joy and peace in heaven." We don’t really know much about

Fortunato: just enough to know that he must not have really known the true heart
of his friend. He must not have been a guarded person. He must have said too
much to make Montresor think he was insulting him and he must have boasted about
his knowledge of wines. You feel that Fortunato was probably a bit too sociable
and a bit foolish. He was an