Summary and Analysis “The Cask of Amontillado”
The Cask of Amontillado has been referred worldwide as perfect short stories and universally considered as Poe’s most perfect short story in his writing career. This short story demonstrates perfectly the nature of short stories and Poe’s theories of expressing ideas and other thematic concerns through a short story. This means that the sentences in the story relate to it thus making it short and enabling it to be read effectively. The Cask of Amontillado demonstrates the very intentions which Poe intended to achieve through the unity of every comment and line in the story (Poe 2)
The plot of the story is unique and quite simple. The first-person narrator by the name of Montresor informs us of his frequent and constant injury he has received from Fortunato who has repeatedly insulted him. When it became too much, Montresor could not hold it back any longer and plotted revenge against the unfortunate Fortunato. The rest of the story as presented by Poe deals with strategies enlisted by Montresor of entrapping Fortunato in attempts to effect his revenge. Accordingly, Montresor, during carnival time one evening actualized his plans for revenge and set things in motion with the hope that no one would ever discover. From the story’s beginning to the end, the reader is certain that Montrose’s plans shall not be discovered (Poe 6)
Fortunato considered himself a great connoisseur or specialist with wine matters, especially with Amontillado, Montresor used this opportunity to engage Fortunato and flatter him requesting his view of a freshly acquired cast of Amontillado. In his plans, Montresor tantalized Fortunato with the liquor all in the pretense that his vaults in which the wines were stored contained too much dampness. In addition, he indicated the presence of “nitre” in order to gain Fortunato’s affection to execute his revenge. The thirst with Fortunato was such great that he insisted on being taken to Montrose’s home to taste the wine (Lyber and James 11) In order to conceal his identity from recognition, Montroser wrapped his face in a cloak and they headed to his home. In a well-choreographed scheme, Montroser had given his workers a night off with the pretense of carnival especially not to arouse the suspicion of his guest Fortunato as well as preventing anyone from witnessing the atrocities he had planned to commit. For a long time, Montroser had planned his revenge and timed it coincide with carnival time. He was confident that, he would not be detected especially amid the gaiety of the carnival (Poe 8).
Fortunato was happy as they descended towards Montroser’s home through the vaults with “bells upon cap jingled” with little knowledge the joy would end soon. The nitre in the vaults made Fortunato to cough constantly though he had made up his mind and resolved to proceed with the journey. In order to wade off the fumes and nitre of the vault, Montroser possed amid the journey and offered Fortunato a bottle of Medoc wine. Although this action may construe as the most manifestation of kindness, it carried the most vicious irony with undertones of ill intentions. Though may seem as kind, it is only meant to take the victim to the niche of revenge a proper position to be buried alive (Lyber and James 14).
The journey continued deep in the tunnels with increasing nitre and fumes. In order to minimize the effects of nitre and fumes, Fortunato requested for another drink. This time, he was given a bottle of De Grave by Montroser and the former emptied it tossing it in the air with a symbolic gesture. Fortunato was certain that Montresor did not comprehend the gesture since it solely belonged to a secret order of the masons. Fortunato was sure Montroser could not belong to such a grouping, thus flinging another insult to Montroser which unknowingly was bringing him closer to being buried alive. In the progress of the journey, we learn of the existence of many catacombs belonging to the long deceased relatives. When they reached one of the catacombs, Montroser informed Fortunato that the Amontillado was inside a small crypt. Immediately Fortunato steeped in, Montroser quickly locked him to the wall with a strong chain with less resistance from Fortunato since he was so drunk and even to realize he was being imprisoned (Poe 11)
In a swift move, Montroser began to “wall up the entrance” with building stones and mortar. As he continued building the fourth tier, he heard the furious screams and vibrations emanating from the chains he used on Fortunato. As Montroser was about to place the last stone, he heard screams from inside the crypt with Fortunato pleading “For the love of God, Montresor,” a phrase Montroser repeatedly in a mockery manner. Towards the end of the story, Montroser informs us that, for fifty years, no one disturbed the peace of that place. From the discussion, the story is fully equipped with ironies. For example, the name Fortunato meaning “the fortune one” presents an irony. Secondly, the most gruesome and terrible acts are conducted in a carnival atmosphere of happiness and gaiety. Montroser entombed Fortunato alive in an atmosphere of celebrations as a disguise. At this point, it worth pausing and asking to whom was Montroser writing and talking to? From the execution of the heinous acts, they depicted Montroser as a wise, intelligence and calculative individual exploiting the best opportune time to carry out his mission. Finally, the story concurs with Poe’s dictum which states that the total effect of something comes as a result of combining other different things. The combination and sequence of ironies depicted in the story perfectly complete the unity of Poe’s perfect short story (Poe 14).
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado, Creative Education. 2008. Print.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado, Retrieved from http://americanenglish.state.gov/files/ae/resource_files/the_cask_of_amontillado.pdf
Lyber, J and James, Roberts. CliffsNotes on Poe’s Short Stories. Retrieved from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/p/poes-short-stories/summary-and-analysis/the-cask-of-amontillado