The Cask Of Amontillado
Montressor in the Cask of Amontillado Essay
The characterization of Montresor in Edgar Allan Poe’s the Cask of Montillado was not done in a conventional manner. This is because there is no other source of information other than the narration of Montressor. This means that Montressor was both the main character and narrator rolled into one.
This means that he can twist the facts and he can project himself as the hero of the story when in fact he could be the villain. This means that Montressor cannot be a reliable narrator and this assertion can be supported by looking at the way Montressor was characterized in this story.
A wary reader can immediately sense that something is amiss when it comes to the characterization of Montressor. Through the words of the narrator Montressor was characterized as a man who was a victim of a foul crime. However, Montressor did not went to the authorities. If he was a man who was at the receiving end of iniquity then he should have felt violated and demand that the lawbreaker pay for his sins. He could have sought justice through the legal process but instead he opted to become a murderer.
Another thing that Montressor did that could easily arouse the suspicion of the reader is his being secretive. No reason was given as to why Montressor wanted his friend dead. Furthermore, Montressor was not only interested in murder, one of his primary goals was to kill and to hide the evidence of the crime, to hide the body so that no one would know that Fortunato died from the hands of an assassin. For that reason Montressor employed a ghoulish strategy that necessitates the slow and painful death by burying Fortunato alive in the wine cellar under his house.
In addition, Montressor said that he was a friend of Fortunato but he seemed to have acted out of character when he assumed the habits and characteristics of a cold blooded killer. If one will take a closer look at what he said and the action and reaction of Fortunato, it can be said that Montressor could not justify the need for murder.
For example, Fortunato had no idea that he had offended Montresor. There was not even a slight hesitation on the part of Fortunato when he saw Montressor. He did not panic or did not become tense. He had no idea that he had besmirched Montressor’s reputation or if he had cheated him in any manner or even if he had said something that has caused him shame.
The final evidence that Montressor was not a reliable narrator and that he twisted the facts in relaying his side of the story can be seen in the final act when he retstrained Fortunato with a chain and padlock and began building the enclosure that will bury his friend alive.
In this moment of triumph when Fortunato had no chance of freedom and retaliation, when he was cornered in the catacombs, Montressor could have expressed his anger and his desire for revenge.
It would be the appropriate behavior of a man wronged to solicit a confession from the person who had commited a sin against him. But Montressor offered no explanation and thefore one can argue that there was no justification for his actions and he simply wanted his friend dead because of a minor offense.
Montressor was not a reliable narrator for he projected himself as the victim when in fact he was nothing but a cold-blooded killer. He offered no explanation and presented no evidence why he believed that Fortunato was guilty of death. Fortunato could be guilty of something but he did not deserve to die. Most importantly he did not deserve to suffer a terrible death, alone in the damp darkness in the catacombs.
The Single Effect In Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado Inductive Essay
It was Edgar Allan Poe’s belief that short stories should be told with only one aim in mind, that of achieving a single effect upon the viewer by the time the story ends.
Joy, despair, horror, tragedy, whatever the emotion, it must be established early on in the story, as early as the first few lines if possible, in order to achieve its fullest impact with the readers. As such, he insured that all his short stories had incidents and events that helped moved the story along from the get-go.
The very first words uttered by the author at the start of the story carried the hook necessary to reel the reader into the story with the desired effect. This is all done so that by the end of the story, the reader will have a sense of satisfaction and the writer will have achieved his pre-established story design.
For me, the best Edgar Allan Poe story that truly embodies the definition of a single effect would have to be “The Cask of Amontillado”. It is my opinion that this story effectively fulfills the requirements for the single effect story telling policy of Poe. I will explain how that is done in the succeeding paragraphs below.
Horror. That is the central theme that The Cask of Amotillado revolved upon amidst the backdrop of revenge among friends masked by drunkenness and gay festivities that blur the line between friend and foe. Set at night during the carnival season, the quick transition from the gay festivities of the European night streets to the somber, dark, damp, and terrifying catacombs clearly aids in establishing the upcoming horrors that shall unfold for the unsuspecting Fortunato.
There could have been many ways in which Poe could have presented the point of view of the characters in The Cask Of Amontillado, but he chose to present it from the point of view of Montresor. The reason behind this is that by presenting the sometimes clouded memories of the antagonist in the story, he is able to present us with a memorable and effective lead character.
By making him an unreliable narrator, he keeps with his single effect principle, deciding to use a character that would immediately grip our imagination and offer a study into the twisted mind of an alcoholic criminal.
The same could not have been said if he opted to use the viewpoint of Fortunato because there would be a lack of gripping clarity in storytelling since Fortunato is the victim in the tale and was knocked out while most of the events were unfolding. The story would in effect have lost its sense of suspense since, as a reader, there would be no way that we would ever know what was passing through Montresor’s mind as he implemented his evil deed.
As Montresor continues to reveal the weaknesses of his friend for the readers, Poe continues to build up the suspense as he involves the readers by making one wonder as to how Monteresor will exact his vengeance upon his drunken friend. Therefore, the single effect of this short story is made quite clear by its main character, that of the horrific death of his close friend as told by its the perpetrator.
Having said that, we can see that Poe has chosen the best way by which to set the scenes for the story that is about to unfold. Each and every sentence that he wrote was meant to, and successfully advances the story to the next, heightened level of horror as only he could write using his single effect theory.
There is no mistaking the fact that the horror unfolding before the reader’s eyes, calling into question whether Montresor even thought about the moral, never-mind the psychological, implications of his actions.
I still remember the chill that I felt upon reading the lines ” The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” I knew that it was a foreshadowing of what was to come for the unfortunate friend, yet, I still could not understand why he had to do it.
In The Cask of Amontillado, these lessons and themes are taught through the vivid use of irony, foreshadowing, and metaphor. The irony of these two friends sitting together and sharing a drink, discussing wine vintages, while Montresor bides his time before snuffing out the life of the man he once considered his friend.
The foreshadowing of the walk within the concrete catacombs where his friend would soon be imprisoned to die, and finally, the metaphor represented by the family motto of Montresor, “Nemo me impune lacessit”, are all crucial elements of the single effect principle that Poe worked hard to present within this short story masterpiece.
The Cask of Amontillado is one of the best examples of effective and impressive single effect short stories. From the very first line of the story, to the very last word uttered, the reader will find himself on a dark roller-coaster ride of human emotions, feeling the horror that the poorly named Fortunato experienced as the final brick was laid by Montresor at his final resting place.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” & “The Cask of the Amontillado”: Summaries, Settings, and Main Themes
“The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of the Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe are good examples of gothic fiction. A gothic tale is a horror kind of a story that portrays a fight flanked by motive and fallacy or light and darkness.
In summary, the main goal of any gothic story is to arouse fear in the reader or viewer of the story. Their setting is imaginary in an old, scary, and absurd environment that probably has never existed. As the narration progresses, fear arises in the reader or viewer, and finally, something horrific happens. “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of the Amontillado” share all of the features above, as well as the main themes that exist in Edgar Allan Poe’s writing. The similarities between the two stories outweigh their differences.
The Fall of the House of Usher: Summary
The story commences with the narrator’s visit to the house of Usher, the one where his childhood friend, Roderick Usher, lives. The narrator receives an invitation via a letter to visit him since he has been ill for a while and needs the narrator’s help.
When he arrives, he notices a scary look of the setting and the lake around the house that gives an equally frightening image. The narrator notices change in Roderick’s appearance, probably due to his failing health. He also learns that his twin sister, Madeline Usher, one of the “The Fall of the House of Usher” main characters, is also very ill with a terminal disease. He also notices paintings on the walls and an improvised guitar.
In attempt to cheer up his friend, the narrator starts reading the writings on the paintings aloud, but he realizes that they do not cheer him up and so he tries listening to the recordings in the guitar when he hears him humming some word like “the haunted palace” (Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” 4). He does not understand all these.
Later, Roderick informs the narrator of his sister’s death and his plans to first place her in the family vault for two weeks before her final burial. The narrator helps him to put her in the coffin and take her to the trunk. The days that follow are full of fear and agitation for both, for no apparent reasons. At the end of one week since the death of Madeline, the narrator is so disturbed at night until he wakes up and dresses. Soon, Roderick knocks on the narrator’s room, also so scared.
They open the window, but the storm is so strong that it almost sways Roderick. To comfort him, the narrator starts to read a “romance story, The Mad Trist” to Roderick. He keenly listens until it gets to the part that “Ethelred, the hero breaks into the dwelling of a hermit by driving his spiked war club through the door. The sound of the cracking, splintering wood reverberates through the forest” (Cummings 6). At the same time, the narrator hears a similar voice far in the house.
He reads on how Ethelred kills the dragon, and he hears a wild scream again in the mansion. As the narrator continues how Ethelred “walks up to the shield but before he can reach for it, it falls” (Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” 14), he hears a similar sound in the mansion.
Soon, the door flies open, with Madeline standing there with her burial garments filled with blood. She falls on his brother, and they both fall down dead. The narrator runs away out of the mansion, but a red moonlight on the house makes him turn behind and look, then he sees the house sinking and the lake around it covering it completely.
The setting of the story is on an autumn day in the evening, in the olden days. The first sight of the mansion is horrific view itself, Cummings says, “The place is a forbidding mansion in a forlorn countryside” (7). The house is enclosed by a fungus, and surrounded by a little lake, tarn.
The fact that the house is covered by fungus shows desperation, hopelessness, and terror. The small lake that looks like a moat makes the house look isolated and mysterious. One small bridge connecting to the mansion over the tarn adds even more fear, especially should someone think of escaping.
The narrator, who is a friend to the master of the house, faces terrifying experiences during his visit. The master, Roderick Usher, experiences a miserable depression portrayed by odd conduct. Madeline Usher, the twin sister to Roderick, also experiences a weird illness, which leads to her death.
Surprisingly, she rises from her coffin, does many strange things culminating in the killing of her own brother. The physicians are also very important characters in the story, as Roderick depicts it, they intend to unbury his sister should he bury him outside, because they want to research on her disease since it is a unique one (McAleer 34).
The Cask of Amontillado: Main Themes
The story starts in an evening in a yearly festivity in an Italian town. The people are jubilant with celebrations, but one of the characters, Montresor, is quite unlike others. He remembers the night when he murdered his friend Fortunato because of an unspecified insult. In a flashback, he entices his friend with some wine, which he calls Amontillado from Spain, which he further reports he is not sure of the quality (Rust 18). We see that “The Cask of Amontillado” plot is built in reverse order.
Fortunato agrees to go with him to taste the wine. On arrival at Montresor’s place, they walk deeper into the vaults where he keeps the wine. As they walk in the tombs, Fortunato coughs severally, and Montresor pretends to be so much concerned of his health that he suggests that they should go back, but Fortunato insists on going on saying that the cough is a small thing and will not kill him (Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado” 23).
Montresor first gives him a brand called Medoc and then DeGrave. Fortunato becomes joyous of drunkenness and looks forward to Amontillado, where Montresor chains him on the walls of the vault and buries him alive. It is now fifty years since the narrator buried his friend.
In summary, the setting of The Cask of Amontillado is in an evening in an Italian city filled with jubilation and celebration during an annual festival. The characters in the story are mainly two, Montresor and Fortunato. Montresor seeks revenge for whatever Fortunato had done to him, including the last recent insult. He thus decides to bury him alive in a horrifying manner.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of the Amontillado”: Similarity and Differences
They two stories have some traits in common. Both are horrific and full of terrifying symbolism, and the setting is in the olden days, many years ago. In addition, the two are in first-person narration, only that the narrator in The Fall of the House of Usher is unnamed, while in The Cask of Amontillado he is named Montresor.
The “House of Usher”’s setting, as well of the one in the second story, is during dusk, though the set-up of the two areas differs. The House of Usher is in a weird place in the countryside, but the Cask of Amontillado is in the city. Another difference is in the environment of the stories; The Fall of the House of Usher is in a gloomy setting while The Cask of Amontillado is a jubilant setting.
In the two stories, there are incidences of people buried alive, but Madeline, in the first story, rises and goes forth to carry out her revenge mission while Fortunato in the second story still lies within the walls of the vault. The two stories portray revenge, where Madeline kills his brother for burying her alive while Montresor buries Fortunato alive in revenge for the many wrongs he has done to him, including the insult.
The main difference between the stories is probably the way how their plots are built. In The Fall of the House of Usher, we see the linear plot, while in The Cask of Amontillado, the plot is reversed.
In conclusion, the similarities between the two stories by Edgar Allan Poe outweigh the differences. The characters and the setting of the stories evoke horror in the audience, with sudden deaths underlining the scenes.
McAleer, John. “Poe and Gothic Elements.” Emerson Society Quarterly 27.2 (1962): 34.
Poe, Edgar. The Cask of Amontillado. USA: Godey’s Lady‘s Book, 1846.
Poe, Edgar. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Burton’s Gentlemen Magazine Oct. 1839: 216.
Rust, Richard. “Punish with Impunity: Poe, Thomas Dunn English, and ‘The Cask Of Amontillado.’” The Edgar Allan Poe Review 3.2 (2001): 16-19.
Humor in “The Cask of Amontillado” Horror Story by Allan Poe Essay
The use of horror and humor in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the literary features that the author uses to constructs the story. Poe is a manipulative author who uses linguistic techniques with so much ease and combines them with other literary devices such as the point of view, the setting and choice of words to add to the literary quality of his work.
Poe can maintain a sense of pervasive humour throughout this short story as he combines horror and humour with so much ease. Pervasive humour is also known as grotesque humour, a style of writing in which the author mixes horror and humour for comic effect.
Is “The Cask of Amontillado” a horror story? Poe presents death as grotesque phenomena, yet in a humorous way to achieve comic relief. Through Montresor, the antagonistic, Poe presents death as a joke. He makes death seem like a funny occurrence from the beginning of the story to the end, which adds irony to the situation. Fortunato tells Montressor that he has a cog, but he wouldn’t die of it, to which Montresor agrees joyously in the affirmative and goes on to encourage Fortunato to ‘drink form draught of this Medoc’ to cure his cough (Poe para 37).
Montressor joyous affirmation is humorous, but the use of the term Medoc is horrific as the reader knows that Medoc, the wine already contains poison. Critics argue that Montresor, an unreliable narrator, uses these words not in any attempt to kill Fortunato but for his self-gratification. This means that Montresor finds joy and amusement in death.
The title of the short story is also humorously horrific. The author uses the word cask to mean wine container or barrel. This term, cask, is obtained from the same root name as the casket, which means coffin. Montresor wants to avenge Fortunato’s insult and thus devices a way to kill him.
Therefore, he invites Fortunato to taste from the cask of Amontillado, Amontillado being the new wine. In the short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” Poe’s use of the term cask infers to the casket, the humorous way of referring to Fortunato’s casket (coffin). Thus, the analysis shows that Fortunato is represented as a fool who falls for this joke, not knowing that it signifies his death.
Poe combines this piece of humour with horror by using the term mason. Fortunato’s questions Montresor whether he is a mason, meaning a member of the freemasons, to which Montresor agrees. In grotesque reference to death, Poe uses the term mason to mean a person who constructs using bricks to insinuate that Montresor will create Fortunato’s grave with stone and mortar (Poe paras 60, 76, 89).
The author also uses the name Fortunato to refer to the folly of this particular character humorously and to conceal the grotesque death that awaits him. As is clear from the summary, the name Fortunato is connected to the word fortunate, which means lucky or good fortune. The reader knows that Fortunato is not lucky as there is grotesque death that awaits him.
As such, Poe uses this name to bring comic relief in a tense and gross situation. Fortunato’s dressing apparel is also humorous and is used for the same purpose as his name Fortunato: to conceal the fate that awaits him (Poe para 4). He is dressed in a jolly outfit as a court jester who is a humorous and comic figure. This is in contrast to the unnatural death that waylays him ahead.
The use of humor in “The Cask of Amontillado,” is mostly achieved through the use of Poe’s linguistic prowess. Humour, other than concealing the grotesqueness of the death that awaits Fortunato, also reveals his folly. Fortunato takes a lot of time to realize the joke in the whole affair among foreshadowing techniques. This brings in comic relief and humour, which lifts the gloom from the story.
Poe, Edgar. ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’ n.d. May 26, 2011
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado Essay
The Cask of Amontillado is one of the best known works of Edgar Allan Poe. This is a tale woven together through the use of lies and smooth words coming out from its main character and narrator.
The short story is interesting in the sense that all the information about the characters and the events that transpired that day came only from one source (Poe, p.1). Without remorse Montressor recounted how he deceived his friend Fortunato and led him to a trap that would kill him. It is therefore fitting to use characterization as an element to support the theme of betrayal.
The theme of the story is betrayal. Montressor said that he was a friend of Fortunato and yet he plotted his murder. The elaborate scheme was revealed by the murderer himself when he gave away clues as to how he has planned the event beforehand and that it was not spontaneous act.
Betrayal is the theme most evident in the story because Montressor was able to deceive his friend Fortunato. He played on his weakness. The pride of Fortunato was his downfall but it could never have been exploited until Montressor played the part of a good friend. Fortunato was an unsuspecting prey led to a deadly trap.
The betrayal was perfectly set-up because of the personal qualities of Montressor. This is why Edgar Allan Poe’s characterization is the most important element of this short story. Without the brilliant characterization of Montressor the story cannot stand on its own and the readers would not be convinced that a betrayal of such magnitude is possible.
The author was able to paint the picture of a cold-blooded killer capable of deceiving a friend. He was able to do this by allowing Montressor to be the narrator and the only source of information regarding the other elements of the story. Although the revelation of the character of Montressor was done indirectly, the fact that he was also the narrator of the story enabled readers to have access to his thoughts and feelings.
By doing so the author was able to reveal a great deal of information regarding the foul mind of Montressor. At the same time wary readers can see how the plot to kill Fortunato evolved from an insult, to a grudge and then finally to premeditated murder. The characterization of Montressor also made it clear why the murderer succeeded and why he was able to commit the perfect crime in the sense that no one would know that he was the culprit.
The characterization also revealed how Montressor’s mind work because he was able to foresee different factors that would work in his favor. He had foresight to kill his friend at the height of the carnival because he knew that Fortunato would be drunk. He also knew that it is the only time of the year that he could wear a mask without drawing suspicion. He could also then cover his face to prevent witnesses from identifying the man who was with Fortunato the last time he was seen alive.
The most dominant theme of the story is betrayal. The challenge for the author was to convince the readers that a powerful and influential man like Fortunato can be easily led to a trap. In this regard the author had to expertly use characterization to explain the motives of the killer and why he had the capability to commit a terrible crime. The characterization of Montressor also gave readers access to his thoughts and feelings therefore clarifying that he was intent to murder and betray his friend.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado. PoeStories.com, 2005. https://poestories.com/read/amontillado. 27 July 2011.
Mini Anthology: Poe Edgar Allan and Dickson Emily’ Works Essay
The reason why I chose the works of both Poe Edgar Allan and Dickson Emily is that they have very interesting plots that keep the reader intrigued by the unfolding events of their narration. The key theme in these stories is madness, which is a topic of great interest to me as a reader.
A writer like Allan Poe Edgar has been termed as one of the very famous Gothic fiction writers of the 19th century. All of his stories are identified with dark settings as well as characters who have deluded or diseased minds. In addition to this aspect, the fiction he writes revolves around illusion where reality and madness remain unsolved. This type of stories appeals to young people and particularly college students.
In addition, the target audience is especially people who have a keen interest in the topic of madness or people who deal with madness cases. However, I dedicate this anthology to my friend Allan simply because he is a great encouragement to me when it comes to studying and developing myself. What makes my anthology interesting is that it revolves around a very captivating yet serious topic, which is madness that many people may not speak of, but is very much in our society.
Poe Allen has written “The tell-tale heart” where his artistic and imaginative capabilities emerge with the strong original story line he has come up with. The story is a first person narrative whereby a murderer confesses having committed a gruesome crime without any motive.
Right from the start of the story, there is a revelation of the protagonist’s madness; however, the reader wonders whether what he is saying is true or he is just hallucinating (Poe The tell-tale heart 34). There is no certain date of when the author wrote the Tell-Tale Heart narrative, but evidence shows that it happened most likely in mid 1842 right after Poe had his third heart attack.
The other story that Poe Allen has written is “The fall of the House of Usher” whereby the main theme is about the haunted house, which is crumbling and this aspects brings out a Gothic effect. This story brings out Poe’s capability of coming up with works that have emotional tones and particularly feelings such as guilt, doom, and fear. The main character Roderick Usher is suffering from mental illness as narrated by an unknown narrator.
Third story written by Poe Allan is “the Cask of Amontillado” published in the month of November 1846. The setting of the story is an Italian city that remains nameless and is about revenge by the narrator on his friend allegedly for insulting him. The plot covers a story of a person who is attacked and the killer buries him alive.
The main theme in this story is murder; however, there is no investigation done in regards to the Montresor’s crime; instead, it is the murderer himself who reveals how he killed his friend (Poe The Cask of Amontillado 16). This story leaves the reader with the task of determining who committed the murder.
The fourth works that I chose is “Much madness is Divinest Sense,” by Dickinson Emily, which dates back to 1862; however, the poem was published 30 years later. In a world that was heavily male dominated, the poem brings out Emily Dickinson as a person who brought out a sense of rebellion and humor in the poem. The poem also brings out a feeling of anger. The central theme of “Much madness is Divinest Sense” is madness, which is a key factor in all the other stories that I chose.
As aforementioned, this paper is an analysis of the aforementioned stories based on the theme of madness. “The Tell-Tale-Heart” by Allan Poe is a murderer’s confession explaining the ghastly murder that he committed. The narrator’s high degree of madness stands out clearly even as the story opens up; however, one might confuse this madness with delusions, which leaves the reader torn between the two elements, viz. madness and delusions.
As the story starts, the narrator maintains that he does not have any mental illness by stating that he is telling his story in a calm manner and this somehow aspect proves he is sane (Poe The Tell-Tale-Heart 65). He goes on to give details of how he killed an old man who he claims that he loved and actually, they shared a house.
What stands out is the reason as to why he killed him; he says that he killed him all because the poor old man had some physical characteristics (pale eyes), which were a threat to the narrator and thus he decided to do away with them altogether and thus eliminate the threat and torment eventually. Contrastingly, at one point, the narrator states that he is sane and he goes ahead to give an account of the crime.
He chronicles the happenings of the crime with such precision that anyone would doubt his madness given the degree of remembrance that he portrays in the process of recounting the story. However, the pressing question remains, why a sane person would kill another simply because the victim has ‘unpleasant” features like pale eyes and confess the crime.
The sanity that underscores the aspect of clear remembrance and recounting of the events leading to the death of the old man is overshadowed by the insanity of committing such an act and thus the narrator is clearly mad. The narrator is obsessed by the element of time throughout the story. The readers can point to clear madness for how can a sane person kill a person just because the color of his eyes freaks him out; only a mad person can do such a thing.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” based on the theme of madness shows that Poe’s story is of Gothic genre. Feelings associated with madness such as trouble, fear, and guilt emerge in this story particularly by the main character, Roderick Usher, as explained by the narrator. Roderick is mad not only because he buries his sister while still alive, but also because of his family history of mental illness.
There is symbolism of the end of madness in the Roderick’s family especially with the crumbling down of the house and the end of the two Usher’s siblings (Poe The Fall of the House of Usher 93). Madness also emerges through other themes such as vampirism, melancholy, and even possible incest. Between Madeline and Roderick, an incestuous relationship emerges despite the fact that the author does not go so much into detail, but it is evident from the way the two have a bizarre attachment.
Madness is evident for Roderick buries his sister alive, which is not something that sane people do. In addition, the fact that he comes from a family that has a history of mentally ill people shows that he has a high chance of being mad, which comes out clearly by the way he acts.
Sane people also do not have intimate relationships with their siblings as Roderick has with his sister Madeline (Poe The Fall of the House of Usher 1o6). In many societies, it is a taboo for a brother and sister to have intimate relationships and there are even grave repercussions that follow such actions. Roderick even goes ahead to write a poem titled “The Haunted Palace”, which is a reference to crumbling house that spells tragedy and doom.
Poe’s other story, “The Cask of Amontillado”, tells a tale from the perspective of the murderer. Unlike other crimes, there are no investigations carried out and in its place, the criminal is the one giving the details of the crime (Poe The Cask of Amontillado 16). This aspect shows a form of madness for most criminals, if not all, never confess to being the ones responsible for a murder. Montresor must thus be insane; however, he gives even the smallest details of what happened making the reader to question whether indeed, he is mad.
The manner in which Montresor kills Fortunato shows that he does not have any sane feelings left in him. Fortunato is drunk and does not suspect a thing when Montresor chains him quickly against the wall after which he stones him to death. In addition, as Fortunato cries in pain and screaming for help, Montresor only mocks him, as he knows very well that no one can hear him (Poe The Cask of Amontillado 18). In my view, only a mentally sick person can stand the wails and cries of someone in pain and continue to make fun of the same.
The poem I chose “Much madness is Divinest Sense” can also be looked at critically particularly based on the issue of madness. The poem shows that people see madness as the most profound type of insanity particularly if a person with a discerning eye views it. It is not just a sense of madness, but profound madness, “the starkest madness” (Dickinson Line 3). However, the poem can be challenging to read, but once one gets the message, it becomes easy to understand the write up.
Madness, according to the poem, is in reality the truest sanity, but since majority of people view it as being wrong, they refer to it as madness. Dickinson was herself called mad during her time and even after she died. This poem is not only related to the judgments of “sense” or “madness”, but also talks about judgments that are made and have significant ramifications and the person who has authority to make them.
After reading the poem, the reader can see that people make judgments regarding person’s insanity “straightaway” according to the author for such an individual has made a choice to “Demur” from the majority. However, I do not agree with the poet when she says, “Much madness is Divinest sense” especially judging from the short stories by Allan Poe where the insane characters engage in the most horrid murders, which according to me is not “Divine Sense”.
All the three stories and poem have one common element in them, viz. madness. The characters in the stories as explained by the narrators are mad and that is why they end up killing other innocent people. In addition, the manner in which they kill their victims is very frightening from entombing to dismembering the bodies.
Madness by definition is a continuum of behaviors that have characteristics of abnormal behavioral or mental patterns. The person becomes a danger to not only other people, but also to himself or herself. In this case, the characters have posed danger to the people around them.
From my findings after reading the three narratives and the poem, one cannot identify a mad person simply by looking at him or her; however, one’s actions determine if s/he is mad or not.
For instance, in all the aforementioned stories and poem, the characters showing signs of madness cannot be said to be mad at a glance; however, it is only after reading the criminal actions that they have committed that one can tell of their madness. Some of the insane characters even give intricate details of the events of what they did. Gothic stories bring out what happens in society and so these are not fake stories for they help the audience to relate to the different kind of people in the society.
There are insane people living among us and some of them end up committing heinous acts like murder, and so we should all be careful. Therefore, madness is both an interpretation and exemplification of insanity. Also from the poem, I have learnt that people have different opinions on the topic of madness. While some believe that madness is a problem, others think that it is a divine sense.
Dickinson, Emily. Much Madness Is Divinest Sense, 2012. Web.
Poe, Allan. The Cask of Amontillado, Charleston: BookSurge LLC, 2004. Print.
Poe, Allan. The Fall of the House of Usher and other writings, Poems, Tales, Essays and Reviews, London: Penguin Group, 1986. Print.
Poe, Allan. The Tell-Tale Heart and other writings, New York: Bantam Books, 1982. Print.
The Cask of Amontillado Critical Essay
Edgar Allan Poe is perceived as one of the greatest authors and poets of all time. His works have elicited the need for analysis by various scholars and parties from the field of literature. His short story, “The Cask of Amontillado”, portrays various stylistic approaches, thus necessitating an analysis to evaluate the writing style.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a story involving horror due to Montresor’s vengeful motive upon Fortunato. Poe’s work on this piece of literature has been considered as one of the world’s perfect short stories. The narrative meets the qualities of a classic short story as theorized by Poe since it can be read in a single sitting. This paper will analyze the stylistic devices that Poe applies in the short story, “The Cask of Amontillado”.
The story’s narrator, Montresor, opens up his revengeful motive towards Fortunato, his acquaintance, by claiming that he insulted him irreparably (Poe 1200). Montresor seeks to use Fortunato’s liking for wine in a bid to carry out his revenge in a way that curtails the risks of being identified. Montresor brings the idea of using Luchesi to taste Amontillado, but Fortunato suggests that he is not good enough for the task and regards him as a competitor as well.
The two proceed towards Montresor’s burial vaults, which are exposed and filled with nitre. The nitre causes Fortunato to cough, and thus takes the wine to counter the effects even after being told by Montresor to go home. The two continue exploring the vaults that contain body remains of Montresor’s family members.
Fortunato tries to see if Montresor is a true mason by making a hand movement, but the latter does not recognize and he justifies himself by showing him a trowel implying a stonemason (Poe 1202). Montresor tells an intoxicated Fortunato to access a small recess through a wall made of bones to get the Amontillado before trapping him. Fortunato starts squalling as the walls go up.
The alcohol levels in his system drop as he starts moaning helplessly and later laughs at Montresor, who is not in the mood for jokes, as he continues piling the layers of the wall. Fortunato stops conversing with Montresor after making the final plea, “For the love of God, Montresor” (Poe 1204), but the latter continues to call his name twice.
Montresor positions the final brick and plasters the walls before reassembling the bones on the fourth wall. Montresor says that the bones have not been disturbed for fifty years, and he makes a conclusion in Latin that translates to “May he rest in peace” (Poe 1205).
Poe’s short story depicts a simple plot that portrays various aspects of his style in a compact way. Therefore, the analysis will explore the title, the use of irony, and other aspects writing and stylistic devices that Poe applies.
The title, “The Cask of Amontillado”, sounds mysterious and it tends to elicit fright. “Amontillado” simply refers to an alcoholic beverage that is linked to sherry. The title seems to conceal the story’s subject since moat people are not familiar with the various types of liquor unless one is a wine connoisseur.
On the other hand, “Casks” are used for the storage of alcoholic beverages. Montresor communicates that Fortunato possesses a “pipe of what passes for Amontillado” (Poe 1201). In this light, the “pipe” implies the “cask”, which could mean a “casket”. Poe uses the title to conceal and reveal the horrific nature of the story artistically as depicted by Fortunato’s ambitions of finding the Cask of Amontillado only to discover his death casket.
Additionally, Amontillado has different meanings to Montresor and Fortunato. To Fortunato, Amontillado represents pleasance and delectation, while Montresor uses it for the pursuit of his vengeful mission.
The use of irony
Poe uses three types of irony in the story as a literary tool that facilitates the readers’ understanding of the friendship that exists between Montresor and Fortunato. He uses situational, dramatic, and verbal irony throughout the story to make it intriguing to the audience.
In verbal irony, the speaker uses parables to imply the opposite meaning of what is being said. For instance, the name “Fortunato” implies good fortune, but it seems to be the contrary in this story. Fortunato turns out to be unfortunate as he is eventually trapped and killed by the revengeful Montresor.
Verbal irony is also depicted as Montresor leads Fortunato to the vaults. Montresor pretends to be caring about Fortunato’s health by noting, “We will go back; your health is precious…You are a man to be missed. For me, it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible” (Poe 1203).
Montresor’s intentions are the opposite since he intends to destroy Fortunato’s health by killing him. Fortunato proceeds deeper towards the vault as his coughs persist, but Montresor tells him that they will go back before it gets late and that his cough is nothing to worry about at the time. Going deep into the vaults means that Fortunato would meet his dark fate, which is signified by Amontillado.
Fortunato’s source of pleasure turns out to be his painful ending as Montresor revenges on him. Poe also uses dramatic irony in the story whereby he reveals some things to the audience, which are unknown to the characters. Fortunato’s dress code appears ironical as it depicts his eagerness to taste the rare alcoholic beverage. He posits, “The man wore motley.
He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells” (Poe 1202). In this regard, Fortunato’s dressing mode symbolizes a fool that can be easily tricked into his death. Fortunato also says, “I will not die of a cough” (Poe 1202). Montresor affirming, “The cold is merely nothing” (Poe 1202). The readers know what is looming for Fortunato, but he is not aware of what may happen to him according to his enemy’s plans.
Fortunato toasts bodies that had been buried in the catacombs without realizing his impending death (Poe 1203). In situational irony, the opposite of the anticipated outcomes occurs. Poe utilizes this type of irony during the night of the carnival. He posits, “I had told them that I should not return until the morning and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house.
These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one, and all, as soon as my back was turned” (Poe 1203). This assertion implies that the Montresor wants his servants not to leave without him, which ensures that they would do the contrary. Another instance of situational irony is whereby the non-existent cask containing the Amontillado turns out to be the connoisseur’s casket.
Fortunato ultimately discovers his coffin instead of the rare wine that he anticipates. Montresor commits a premeditated murder of Fortunato, which is not punished legally after fifty years (Poe 1205). Therefore, it is ironical that Fortunato has been resting in peace as Montresor lives freely with impunity.
A good story should entail aspects of an initial condition, the conflict, complication, climax, suspense, and the conclusion. Poe initiates the story by depicting the painful history between Montresor and Fortunato. Montresor claims, “Fortunato had hurt me in other ways a thousand times, and I had suffered in quiet” (Poe 1200) implying that there were personal differences that existed between them.
Fortunato also insults Montresor, thus causing him to vow for revenge. This section provides a good basis for the story’s initial situation. The conflict aspect of the story is comes out when Montresor posits, “I must punish him with impunity” (Poe 1201). This statement translates into his vengeful strategies that depict the conflict in the story.
The story is not complicated and it might only confuse the reader on the aspects of Amontillado and Luchesi. The climax of the story stands out when Fortunato is chained in the catacomb as Montresor starts erecting the walls that would act as Fortunato’s casket.
The suspense is created where Montresor positions and plasters the bricks for the tomb. The denouement of the story happens when Montresor places the final brick thereby ending the suspense that calls for the conclusion by writing, “In pace requiescat!” (Poe 1205).
Montresor describes various events elegantly, which intrigues the reader. For instance, Montresor describes the bones and human remains in a tone that does not evoke fear. He says, “We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux [torches – pronounced “flam-bow”] rather glow than flame” (Poe 1204).
The story adopts a horrific and gothic setting. The setting of the story proceeds from freedom to confinement as Montresor kills Fortunato by confining him in a casket. The carnival aims at creating happiness and celebrating freedom, but it turns out to be the opposite for Fortunato.
The dusk hours imply that something horrific is imminent as manifested by Montresor’s trap. The season is considered as a period of “supreme madness” (Poe 1203), and thus it evokes a feeling of uncertainty. However, the actual setting of the story is not specified, but events are perceived to take place in the European setting since the names of the characters like Fortunato and Luchesi have a European origin. Amontillado is a wine of Spanish origin whereas Montresor’s coat of arms originates from Scotland.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a perfect short story that depicts Poe’s stylistic features of his works. The title creates a concealed horrific topic that requires the readers’ interpretation of the “Cask” and “Amontillado”. Poe uses symbolism, irony, suspense, and horror to give the story a creative element as the setting flows from freedom to confinement.
The plot used is simple as it initiates the issue between Montresor and Fortunato before proceeding to build up the conflict that climaxes at Montresor’s catacombs. Therefore, Poe depicts his exceptional writing skills in authoring the short story, thus making him one of the greatest writers and poets of all the time.
Poe, Edgar. “The Cask of Amontillado.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eds. Nina Baym et al. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 1200-1205. Print.
Narrative Perspectives in Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado Essay
One of the reasons why the story The Cask of Amontillado (Edgar Allan Poe) and the poem My Last Duchess (Robert Browning) are being commonly referred to, as such that represent a particularly high value, is that the narrative perspective chosen by the authors to highlight the discursive significance of the contained themes and motifs, does add to the perceptual plausibility of the concerned storylines.
In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that, while reflecting upon the motif of murder, Poe and Browning succeeded in convincing readers that it was specifically the very psychological constitution of both protagonists (Alfonso Ferrara and Montresor), which naturally predetermined their behavioral maliciousness. In my paper, I will explore the validity of this suggestion at length.
After having been introduced to the characters of Montresor (The Cask of Amontillado) and Alfonso Ferrara (My Last Duchess), we inevitably conclude that they seem to interact with the surrounding reality similarly. One of the reasons for this is that these characters’ foremost psychological trait appears to be their traditional-mindedness.
This is exactly the reason why Montresor decides to take a revenge on the character of Fortunato, whose very appearance presupposes his psychological incompatibility with the notion of tradition: “He had on a tightfitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells” (Poe 3). Apparently, Fortunato was dressed as a jester.
Yet, as historians are being well aware of, jesters have always been known for their reputation of ‘violators of tradition’. Therefore, the Mortresor’s deep-seated hatred of his ‘friend’ Fortunato can be well discussed in terms of ‘intellectual advancement’ vs. ‘tradition.
It is specifically the fact that the story’s protagonist unconsciously perceived Fortunato, as being much more intellectually superior then himself, that prompted Montresor to become obsessed with the thought of revenge.
Essentially the same thesis applies to the character of Alfonso in My Last Duchess. Being the traditionally-minded ‘man of stature’, Alfonso believed that in their relationships with husbands, wives must remain thoroughly submissive.
This is exactly the reason why, while proceeding with his monologue, Alfonso expresses its ill-concealed annoyance with his wife’s flirtatiousness:
She had a heart… how shall I say?… too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere (Browning 22-34).
Apparently, Alfonso could not stand a thought that, being made of flesh and blood; it was perfectly natural for his wife to feel flirtatious at times.
Thus, it can be well assumed that it is specifically the hypertrophied sense of a ‘traditional propriety’, which defined the essence of Montresor and Alfonso’s existential modes. In its turn, this created an objective precondition for them to be individuals who strived to adjust the de facto reality around them to be consistent with the ideological provisions of their ‘overvalued idea’.
Consequently, this was causing Montresor and Alfonso to adopt an active stance, while denying the legitimacy of the idea that one’s life represents the greatest value of all. Therefore, there is nothing utterly surprising about the fact that, while elaborating upon their unholy deeds, both characters would do it in a strongly cynical manner.
This is exactly the reason why the Montresor and Alfonso’s use of irony/sarcasm emanates the spirit of Freudian ‘uncanny’ – while sounding ironic, both characters reveal that, even though appearing as humans on the outside, they are in fact bloodthirsty monsters on the inside.
For example, there is a memorable scene in The Cask of Amontillado, where Montresor tries to talk Fortunato out of his decision to climb down the cellar, in search of Amontillado: “We will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed” (6).
What is especially chilling about the above-mentioned sarcastic statement, on the part of Montresor, is that; while appearing to be merely concerned with the protagonist’s wish not to allow his ‘friend’ to become ill, it actually reflects the sheer measure of the main character’s commitment to take a revenge on Fortunato.
Apparently, it was not only that Montresor wanted to ‘savor’ the approaching demise of Fortunato, but he also strived to make sure that his ‘friend’ does not reconsider its decision to venture down the cellar (the application of the so-called ‘reverse psychology’ method).
Browning’s deployment of the rhetorical device of sarcasm/irony in the poem also serves the purpose of enlightening readers about the fact that, despite being a socially prominent individual, it was in Alfonso’s very nature to treat people in terms of a soulless commodity. For example, even though Alfonso does not explicitly state that he murdered his wife, the following excerpt leaves no doubts that this was the actual case:
Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive (43-47).
Alfonso could have well admitted to killing his wife in plainer terms. This, however, would have deprived his character of a perceptual genuineness, as a hypocritical moralist, capable of simultaneously expounding on the subject of decency, on the one hand, and acting as a thoroughly immoral psychopath, on the other.
Nevertheless, it would be inappropriate to suggest that the specifics of both literary works’ narrative perspectives are solely concerned with the Browning and Poe’s intention to expose the mental inadequateness of Alfonso and Montresor, but also with their desire to provide readers with a preliminary clue, as to what should be considered this inadequateness’s actual root.
The validity of this suggestion can be shown in regards to another memorable scene in The Cask of Amontillado. In this scene, after having chained Fortunato to the wall, and after having listened to his screams for a while, Motresor begins to scream in return: “A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back… I reproached the wall.
I replied to the yells of him who clamored. I reechoed – I aided – I surpassed them in volume and in strength” (9). Apparently, Poe was well aware of the fact that religious individuals, strongly affiliated with ‘traditional values’, are psychologically inclined towards deriving an emotional pleasure out of savoring the intensity of a particular emotion – regardless of whether this emotion happened to be positive or negative.
This is the reason why in Latin American countries, thousands of people request to be crucified, during the course of Catholic religious celebrations – by doing it, they derive a pleasure out of savoring their own sensation of pain. While exposed to the spectacle, the crowds of spectators savor the physical pain of these religious fanatics with essentially the same degree of intensity (Butler 274).
In a similar manner, by screaming even louder than Fortunato, Monresor sadistically enjoyed the pain of his ‘friend’. After all, it does not represent much of a secret to psychologists that sadism and masochism usually go hand in hand, with the notion of masochism being nothing but euphemistically sounding synonym to the notion of a monotheistic religiosity.
This explains why, before placing the last stone in the immurement-wall, Montreser exclaimed: “For the love of God!” (10) – after having experienced a sadistic/semi-religious ecstasy, while exposed to Fortunato’s pain, Montresor was able to convince himself that what he had done was indeed godly.
The particulars of the deployed narrative perspective in My Last Duchess, also appear to serve the function of providing readers with an in-depth insight into the actual causes of Alfonso’s behavioral abnormality. The legitimacy of this suggestion can be explored in relation to the manner, in which Browning’s poem ends:
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, Sir! Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me (53-57).
What this statement implies, is that throughout the course of his life, Alfonso never ceased experiencing the acute lack of an emotional empathy towards the people, with which he used to socialize. The reason for this is apparent – in Alfonso’s mind, there is no qualitative difference between the painting of his former wife, on the one hand, and the statue of Neptune, on the other.
This is because he is able to swiftly switch the focus of his cognitive attention from one to another with ease. As of today, however, one’s inability to experience the sensation of empathy to his or her close relatives is often being looked upon, as the proof of the concerned individual’s mental illness. For example, it is by observing the lack of such empathy in young children that psychologists are able to come up with a preliminary diagnosis of autism (Tager-Flusberg 312).
Thus, it will not be much of an exaggeration to suggest, even though the Browning’s poem and Poe’s novel were written before the very concept of psychology came into being, the themes and motifs, contained in these literary masterpieces, do correlate with what happened to be the recent breakthroughs in the field this particular science.
As such, these literary works can be deemed truly enlightening – after having been exposed to them, readers do become more knowledgeable of the fact that there is indeed a good rationale in thinking about one’s strong adherence to the provisions of a conventional morality, as such that extrapolates the concerned individual’s mental abnormality.
As it was implied in the Introduction, the literary appeal of Poe’s novel and Browning’s poem cannot be thought of in terms of a ‘thing in itself’. It is namely due to both literary masterpieces’ discursive progressiveness, reflected by the authors’ awareness of what account for the innermost predicaments of people’s behavior, that The Cask of Amontillado and My Last Duchess continue to be valued by readers.
Apparently, after having read them, people are able to increase the extent of their existential fitness, as their exposure to the earlier discussed literary works naturally increases the measure of their awareness of what are the behaviorally observable manifestations of one’s mental inadequateness. I believe that this conclusion fully correlates with the paper’s initial thesis.
Butler, Matthew. “Mexican Nicodemus: The Apostleship of Refugio Padilla, Cristero, on the Islas Marías.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 25.2 (2009): 271-306. Print.
Tager-Flusberg, Helen. “Evaluating the Theory-of-Mind Hypothesis of Autism.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 16.6 (2007): 311-315. Print.
Browning, Robert 1842, My Last Duchess. Web.
Poe, Allan Edgar 1846, The Cask of Amontillado. Web.
The Cask of Amontillado Essay
Montresor starts the story of “The Cask of Amontillado” by indicating that his friend irreparably offended him and seeks vengeance. He plans to revenge in a calculated way without putting himself at risk with the law. Edgar Allan Poe is famous for using theatrical imagery in the gothic type. The gothic type of literature has an array of conventions.
These include the suggestions of horror, supernatural, and mysterious, alien settings such as fortress as well as the collapsing buildings. The story utilizes graphical language and imagery in the development of a sense of deceptive and persuasive nature and circumstances in the expansion of the symbolic approach of sustaining a condition of suspense.
Analysis and explanation of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’
The imagery selected by Poe in The Cask of Amontillado is critical in furthering the plot of the narrative. The suspense created by the author remains until the end of the story. The cause of the intense abhorrence harbored by Montresor towards Fortunato remains anonymous throughout the story. The narrator does not reveal why he hated Fortunato so much to the extent of leading him to his death.
The lacking information helps the author to add tension. It makes the reader to create acquaintance with the language used by Montresor as he craftily leads Fortunato to his demise. In addition to the creation of a closer concentration to the graphical wording, the author also utilizes imagery to develop a sense of the looming doom. There are two providers of the looming doom and tension.
The prefiguring and satire take root through the composition of the whole narrative. The elements are highlighted by the author through imagery that creates a sense of situation that is engulfed with the overpowering fear for the reader. The narrative heavily depends on expressive wording and imagery to attain a sense of mood that matches the narrative’s sinister plot.
The extensive utilization of sinister imagery is fundamentally successful in creating a dark mood. The author has used color imagery as a central pivot point to question the motives by Montresor. By covering the face with a black silk camouflage, Montresor is not a depiction of the blind fairness but rather the Gothic reverse of prejudiced revenge. On the contrary, Fortunato dresses in the mixed color attire of the court fool.
He is duped plainly and disastrously by Montresor’s camouflaged intentions. The color design in the narrative is the representation of the satire of Fortunato’s fatal sentence. He countenances the comprehension that even the festive period can be gravely serious.
The author selects the festival setting for its desertion of social order. Typically, the festive season signifies pleasant social interaction. However, Montresor alter its joyous abandon and turn the festive mood on its head. The repetitive references to the bones that line the crypt foretell the narrative’s plunge into the criminal world. The two characters’ underground journey is imagery for the journey to hell.
Since the festive mood in the world of the living does not happen as Montresor would wants, he decides to take the celebration mood below the earth within the sphere of the deceased and the satanic. The author further develops suspense through foreshadowing. During the conversation between the two characters, Fortunato states that he shall not die of a cough. In reply to this, Montresor concurs.
It is an indication that he already knows that Fortunato will actually die of thirst and hunger in the vaults. The description of the family insignia is also the foretelling of the upcoming events. The emblem characterizes a human foot squashing a stubborn snake. The foot imagery is a representation of Montresor. The snake symbolizes Fortunato.
Despite Fortunato having Montresor with injurious affront, he will eventually squash him. The talk about Masons also foretells Fortunato’s death. He dares Montresor’s assertion that he is a member of the Masonic order. Montresor responds menacingly with a visible retort. This is apparently depicted when he claims that he is a mason by removing his trowel.
In fact, he meant that he is factually a stonemason. By saying this, he implied that he builds objects out of rocks and mortar. In this context, the imagery is that he will construct Fortunato’s crypt. The closing moments of the talk between the two characters intensify the horror. It proposes that Fortunato will have in the end and paradoxically some kind of advantage and control over Montresor.
From Fortunato’s statement, “For the love of God, Montresor!” he meant that Montresor has finally managed to take Fortunato to the vault of hopelessness and misery. The imagery is pointed to by his incantation of a God that abandoned him long ago. The words are Fortunato’s last expressions in life. The bizarre distress exhibited by Montresor in rejoinder to the words proposes that he requires Fortunato further than he is ready to confess.
The narrative extensively uses imagery to make a variety of communication with the reader. The author uses graphical imagery to create a sense of intrigue to capture the attention of the reader throughout the narrative. By using imagery, the author creates suspense through foreshadowing. The narrative effectively uses Gothic literature to create a sense of fear that accompanies the death of Fortunato.
Edgar Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” Literature Analysis Essay
From the onset, an author lets the readers know which characters are important. This is the norm in any literary medium, including novels, plays, poems, and short stories. Other characters in works of literature are given a considerably less face time compared to the main character. In long works of literature such as novels and plays, minor characters take up a substantial space of the literary medium. However, in short, literary works such as poems and short stories, the main characters end up taking most of the space with minor characters contending with very little coverage. In short stories, the author mostly focuses on the protagonist’s details. Therefore, only very few and relevant details about the non-protagonist characters are supplied to the readers. Nevertheless, those few details and subtle, indirect hints often help the reader to infer some helpful insights and understandings about the non-protagonist characters in a short story. This paper defends this notion using details about the character of Fortunato in Edgar Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”
The main character in “The Cask of Amontillado” is Montresor with Fortunato being a minor character in the short story. Also, Montresor is the story’s narrator, and a lot of details about his character are revealed in the story. On the other hand, the readers only learn about Fortunato’s character by gathering few and scanty details about him through his actions, words, and Montresor, the story’s narrator. At the beginning of the story, it is revealed that Fortunato is the victim of Montessori’s revenge plan. However, Montresor, the narrator does not reveal much about his prey, including the details about how Fortunato insulted him. After learning that Fortunato is the victim, the readers can sympathize and relate with his character. The fact that Fortunato’s accuser does not back his accusations against him makes the readers suspicious.
I t is also possible to know that Fortunato is addicted to wine. Montresor’s revenge plan is modeled around Fortunato’s wine addiction. Montresor is almost certain that Fortunato cannot resist the temptation of wine. On the other hand, Fortunato falls into Montresor’s trap quite easily. Even when Fortunato starts to cough, and Montresor offers him the chance to back off from his quest, he does not give up on the chance of tasting good wine. Fortunato is already drunk by the time he and Montresor get to the catacombs. Fortunato’s addiction seems to be his main undoing and eventually leads to his defeat.
Even though the short story does not dwell on Fortunato’s character, readers can decipher that he is insensitive. First, it does not look like he realizes that he hurt Fortunato. Second, when Montresor comes to carry out his revenge on him (Fortunato), he does not notice that Montresor is angry with him. Fortunato’s insensitivity also makes him a poor judge of character. Halfway through his execution, he still thinks that Montresor is playing a joke on him.
Another Fortunato’s trait that can be deduced from the few details in the short story is his greed and pride. When Montresor offers the wine tasting chance to someone else, Fortunato opposes this idea vehemently. Moreover, it is revealed that Fortunato is naïve. Fortunato follows Montresor sheepishly without considering the suspicious environment they are going past when going to fetch the wine. This naivety ends up being Fortunato’s main undoing.