The Cask of Amontillado!
Duplicity abounds in this tale of an aristocrat obsessed with retribution against his friend. "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe enchants the reader to experience the damp catacombs to witness the premeditated act. Through the excitement of the carnival, the two walk together into the caverns to substantiate a bottle of wine. The theme is when someone is unable to overlook minor infractions; it can turn into deep hatred. The irony Poe skillfully added is dominant from the introduction of the characters to the bone chilling end.
Being told in first person by Montresor, Poe thrusts the reader into a believable tale, though the narrator may not be reliable or trusted solely because of his actions. Kishel explains, “The participant approach by the narrator plunges the reader directly into the story, effectively making it more interesting because the reader feels as though they are in the story rather than reading it. "Montresor tells the story to a presumably appreciative listener, someone capable of relishing its many ironies" (Kishel).
The story begins immediately, drawing the reader into "the supreme madness" (4) of a Mardi Gras type festival in Italy. The character wears "tight-fitting party-striped dress" (4) and a "conical cap and bells" (4) on his head. They put cloaks on as they walk to the vaults. Though no dates are mentioned, there is no doubt the confession takes place fifty years after the event. Bloom interprets, "Poe suggests that Montresor may be telling his tale to his confessor, 'you who know so well the nature of my soul,' perhaps on his deathbed" (Bloom).
Poe develops the characters instantly in the story. Montresor is the antagonist. He is round and static throughout the development of the story. He is arrogant and does not feel sorry for his actions; in contrast, he is extremely satisfied with what he has done. The reader gets the sense that Montresor simply applies what he believes is justice upon Fortunato. Fortunato is the protagonist, and never sees what is coming until the very end of the story. In comparison to Montresor, Fortunato's character is flat and static through the story. Fortunato is full of pride and vanity, but other than this, the reader doesn't really know much about him. Since the story is told by Montresor, the reader learns his attitude, and can feel a good sense of who he is in this moment of his life as he commits this act.
In the exposition of the story, Montresor says "a thousand injuries" (1) he has taken from Fortunato, but "when he ventured upon insult" (1) Montresor vows revenge against him. Bloom feels, “The specifics of exactly what the injuries or insults are, the reader is never told and therefore, throughout the story the reader is forced to wonder if the crime fits the punishment. When Montresor meets Fortunato in the street, and says "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met" (5), "Poe has introduced a sense of irony and amoral cruelty, as the reader knows that Montresor has vowed revenge upon his enemy and his pleasure springs only from the possibility of revenge. The meeting is indeed lucky, but not for Fortunato" (Bloom).
Fortunato is then thrust into the trickery Montresor has premeditated when he tells Fortunato about a bottle of wine and though they are both wine connoisseurs, invites Fortunato to show off his expertise. Mustafa explains, “Even as Montresor insists he not bother Fortunato, he plays on Fortunato's pride knowing he will absolutely follow Montresor to the vaults to prove he knows more about the wine. "In an ironic twist, Montresor has given his servants 'explicit orders not to stir from the house' (24) during the carnival, thereby ensuring 'their immediate disappearance, one and all' (24) and eliminating any witnesses to the crime he plans to commit" (Mustafa). Montresor has truly thought of everything ahead of time to ensure success. As the two go into the caverns of the cellar, the damp air makes...
Cited: Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Beverly Lawn. 40 Short Stories: A Portable Anthology. Third Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 2006. 14-20. PRINT
Harold Bloom. "The Ironic Double In Poe 's "The Cask Of Amontillado." Bloom 's Modern Critical Interpretations: The Tales Of Poe(1987): 55-61. Literary Reference Center. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.
Kishel, Joseph F. "Poe 's THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO." Explicator 41.1 (1982): 30. Literary Reference Center. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.
Mustafa, Jamil M. "Literary Contexts In Short Stories: Edgar Allan Poe 's "The Cask Of Amontillado." Literary Contexts In Short Stories: Edgar Allan Poe 's 'The Cask Of Amontillado ' (2006): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.
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