An Analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado
In “The Cask of Amontillado” Edgar Allan Poe takes us on a journey 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. In a short space and with ultimate technical skill, Poe creates a nightmare, guaranteed to give the reader a sleepless night.
The plot of the story is a simple one. Montresor tales 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 niche. 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.” 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 against 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 is curious to know what will happen next. We know the moment of revenge is at hand, but what is Montresor going to do to Fortunato? 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 our high point of emotional...
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