1. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” what does the narrator’s attitude toward his servants reveal about his view of humanity? It is clear that this is another key indication of the kind of character that Montresor is as a narrator. The fact that he has deliberately organised for his home to be empty when he brings Fortunato home speaks of the way in which he is a calculated killer and has deliberately planned to have Fortunato murdered. However, note what he says about his servants and how he achieves the emptying of his house.
Montresor thus seeks to implicitly recognise the human failings of others.
He knows that during the time of Carnival, if given the opportunity, his servants would go out and make merry, even if they were told not to. He cunningly uses this understanding of the foibles of human nature to his own advantage, showing his ability to manipulate others and clearly acknowledging his own lack of scruples in doing so.
This helps us develop a picture of a character who manipulates others without any feeling of guilt whatsoever so as to accomplish his own purposes. 2. In Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado,” why is Montresor’s revenge justified?
One of the intriguing aspects of “The Cask of Amontillado” is that we do not know, and cannot know, whether Montresor’s relentless and horrific revenge is justified. For example, Montresor establishes the reason for his hatred at the start of the story when he says The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who know so well the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. This disclosure tells us something very important about Montresor, specifically, that he is untrustworthy.
Apparently, he has been the victim of a serious insult, but rather than address the problem openly–by challenging Fortunato to a duel, for example–he is disguising his feelings. More important, however, is that Montresor never tells us what the nature of a “thousand injuries” is and how the “insult” was so qualitatively different that he had to revenge himself upon Fortunato. Because we are left to wonder throughout the entire story why Montresor is acting out the horrific revenge, we cannot but be suspicious of his motives and his sanity. 3.
Can “The Cask of Amontillado” be read as a metaphor for moving from wakefulness to sleep and dreaming? To apply this metaphor to “The Cask of Amontillado,” the story must be read as strictly an allegory. The first section of the story represents the mind’s relaxation and euphoria as it begins to lose consciousness. As the characters retreat from the “carnival madness” — wakefulness — they move into a dark place and drink wine, which relaxes their bodies. The second section, as they pass among the bones of Montresor’s ancestors, shows the relationship of a person’s past to his dreams and ambitions.
Many dreams focus on past events and connect them to present or even future events; the skeletons in the catacombs represent both Montresor’s past and Fortunato’s future. Finally, the act of walling a person in alive was a strong fear of Poe’s, and so represents his personal nightmare; he has moved beyond representational dreams and into the disconnected madness of nightmares, which often are not scary in retrospect. It becomes all about context and the fear of immediate and sudden phobias, which are one powerful root of nightmares. 4.
In “The Cask of Amontillado,” is there evidence that Montresor kills Fortunato for reasons other than revenge? Montresor is clearly acting with malice aforethought; he has taken steps in advance to set up an elaborate plan for Fortunato’s death. However, since he is telling the story, and since he is an unreliable narrator, the reader has only his word that he is committing a justifiable act. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong. (Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado,” eNotes eText)
In other words, he plans for Fortunato’s death in a way that cannot come back to harm him. This shows a very logical and detail-oriented mind, not one to commit murder for passion or on impulse. While it is certainly possible that there was no reason for the murder aside from revenge, there is also no evidence that Montresor is lying; the murder has been undiscovered for fifty years, and in retelling the events he has no reason to make up a story. He cannot be punished now, and so he has little reason to be anything but truthful; the story is, in essence, a boast, and so Montresor would take greater pride in telling the truth.
5. How does Poe create a sense of fear in “The Cask of Amontillado”? Poe’s own fear of being buried alive is one of the most important themes in “The Cask of Amontillado. ” To project this fear on others, he stresses the dark and hostile environment of the catacomb, making what should be a simple, nonthreatening wine-cellar into a frightening tomb: We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. [… ]
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 (torch) rather to glow than flame. (Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado,” eNotes eText) The fear of being confined is called claustrophobia, and is a common fear. The damp walls, with their piled skeletons and sheen of nitre, are meant for confining the dead, not housing the living. The air itself is so thick with humidity and dust that it almost puts the torch out.
As the air weighs heavy on their lungs, and the walls seem to press in, Montresor’s plan becomes evident, and Poe uses Fortunato’s mental deterioration to show his terrible fear, first screaming, and then laughing madly in disbelief. Catacombs in Italy are ancient underground burial tunnels that were used to bury thousands of bodies. His servants have been allowed to attend the carnival. No one is home at the Montresor house. As the pair enters the catacombs, Montresor lights two torches. As they begin their journey from freedom to confinement, Montresor points out to Fortunato the white web work on the walls and ceiling.
7. What does “unredressed” mean from “The Cask of Amontillado”? Unredressed mean not remedied or corrected. When Montresor says a wrong is “unredressed” when retribution overtakes the redressor”, he means that the injury Fortunato did to him will not be corrected if Montressor is caught for the correcting the mistake. He wants to punish Fortunato, and punish him with “impunity”. In other words, he does not want to get caught taking revenge. 8. Why did Montresor decide to seek revenge against Fortunato? Montresor decides to seek revenge against Fortuanato because he believes that Fortunato has insulted him.
The story says “the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. ” We are not told the specifics of this insult. The story leaves the reader to wonder what the insult was and if it ever actually occurred. The story also describes Montressor’s family coat of arms and moto. The coat of arms depicts a large foot crushing a snake that has bitten the heal of the foot. His family motto states “no one attacks me with impunity. ” This tells the reader something of Montressor’s character. He feels that he must punish any offense.
Montressor does not like Fortunato and feels he has put up with him long enough. Finally, Fortuanto insults Montressor in some fashion and Montressor’s anger boils over. Once again, we do not know if this offense ever really occurred. 9. In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” how did Montresor know that his house would be empty? In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montressor, the narrator, explains: There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. 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. This, of course, assures that there will be no servants in the palazzo when Montressor arrives with Fortunato. It also shows that Montressor employs disobedient servants who have no respect for him. The fact that Montresor was only concerned about getting rid of the servants that night, in addition to the fact that the palazzo appears to be empty when he and Fortunato arrive, is a subtle way of indicating Montresor’s loneliness.
He doesn’t have to worry about encountering any family members because there are no family members. Any family he may have had at one time would be among the skeletons lining the walls of the catacombs below his palazzo. 10. Where had the stone and mortar that Montresor used been hidden? The quick answer to this is that the stone and the mortar that Montresor used to wall up Fortunato had been hidden under a big pile of bones. Way down, at the most inaccessible part of Montresor’s wine cellar was a bunch of human remains. They had been tossed down when the cellar was being made.
The area had apparently previously been used as catacombs. After Montresor walls Fortunato up, he piles the bones in front of the wall. No one will think to look behind them because it will look like it’s always been that way. 11. Describe the catacombs in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe. The Catacombs- Monstresor had made careful preparations for the murder. The catacombs were the perfect place for a murder. All of the servants had been dismissed to go to the carnival, so there was no one at home. Catacombs were underground burial tunnels. The corpses would be laid in indentions in the walls of the catacombs.
As they begin their descent down into the catacombs, Montresor grabs two torches. Obviously, this is a dark and damp place. The use of the word descent would imply that the catacombs lie far beneath the base of the house. Along the walls of the cavern were frames that had been built to hold wine bottles. Everything is moist and moldy since it is so far beneath the ground. As the men travel through the vast cavern, they pass by many walls with bones and skeletons piled up and mixed in with large and small barrels of wine. 12. Sinister is a good word to describe the main character in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.
” Montresor has planned the perfect murder and carries it out. The reader knows this because the entire story is told fifty years later by the elderly Montresor who narrators the story. Monstresor decides to murder Fortunato because he has insulted him. Not a good reason, but apparently it is all that Montresor has. The time of the story is during the carnival season probably much like the Mardi Gras today. Apparently, it is a very rowdy time because Montresor uses the word “madness. ” There are two settings for the story: the carnival scene and then Montresor’s home and the catacombs beneath his palace 13.
In “The Cask of Amontillado”, why does Montresor make sure Fortunato has drunk a lot of wine? Montresor tells Fortunato, “a draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps. ” Medoc is a red wine from the SW of France. The burial place of the Montresor family-the catacombs-is damp and very cold and so Montresor offers Fortunato a bottle of wine to drink so that Fortunato will not feel the cold. The real reason Montresor gets Fortunato drunk, however, is to create a false sense of bonhomie so that Fortunato will not suspect his evil intentions of murdering him:both of them even exchange toasts.
Further, by getting him drunk Montresor slows down Fortunato’s reflexes so that he will not be able to escape. 14-15What is Luchresi’s role in the story? And also, what preparations had Montressor made for his revenge? Luchesi is the trump card, the ace up the sleeve that Montresor uses to dupe Fortunato into the catacombs beneath his home. Luchesi is a second rate rival of Fortunato’s in wine expertise. Montresor has bought a keg of Amontillado, a rare and pricey wine, which Luchesi assures him is the real thing. Appealing to Fortunato’s pride in wine connoisseurship, Montresor asks for a second opinion.
Fortunato’s pride is stung by Montresor asking Luchesi’s opinion first. The rocks and mortar were already in the cellar, as were the chains. Montresor carries a trowel hidden in his cloak. Getting Fortunato drunk, exposing him to the niter on the walls, which made him cough, renders his resistance weak. The surprise of the attack seals Fortunato’s fate. 16. Why does Montressor appear concerned about Fortunato’s health? Montressor needs to make sure that his plan goes off without a hitch. If Montressor were to act indifferent to Fortunato’s health, Fortunato may suspect that Montressor was up to no good.
Montressor is simply trying to put Fortunato at ease, and play the concerned friend who would never do anything to harm his “friend” Fortunato–see, Montressor is even concerned for Fortunato’s health. There’s no reason Fortunato shouldn’t follow this man deeper and deeper into the underground. It also serves as a delicious irony for Montressor. He can act concerned about Fortunato’s health, even though Montressor knows that Fortunato’s cough and general health are the least of his concerns right now and will not be the cause of Fortunato’s death. 17. Describe Fortunato’s character.
According to our unreliable narrator Montressor, Fortunato is a man who has inflicted, “a thousand injuries” upon him. Montressor never tells us exactly what he feel these injuries were, only that Montressor is trying to cope with it. Fortunato seems friendly because he believes that he and Montressor are friends. We also get the sense that he is comical and likes to party because he dresses up like a jester which is in stark contrast to Montressor who dresses like death to mark the occasion of his “perfect murder”. Fortunato is also, as Montressor admits to us, a real connoisseur of wine.
Fortunato is arrogant about his wine tasting abilities, which is what leads him into the snare that kills him (if Montressor is telling the truth about the incident). It seems that Fortunato truly has no idea what he has done because he is absolutely shocked when he realizes what is happening. 20. Why do you think Montresor succeeds in leading Fortunato to the niche without raising his suspicions? In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Poe’s narrator is a very clever and devious man who speaks eloquently with an acute understanding of men’s natures.
Montresor is patient, too. Like a cat who stalks his prey, Montesor searches for Fortunato’s vulnerability: “He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine” and in the matter of old wines, he “was sincere. ” Knowing that Fortunato is always interested in tasting a superior wine, Montesor seeks out his victim, feigning joy at finding him as he has wanted to “consult” with him about his large cask of Amontillado. 22. Why did Montresor go to such lengths to get his revenge? After all, he could merely have run Fortunato through with his sword.
Perhaps the next-to-last sentence of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado,” answers this question best: For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them (the body). Although running Fortunato through with a sword might have been a swifter solution, Montressor still had to get rid of the body. Rather than drag the bloody body into the catacombs, Montressor simply lured Fortunato to the exact spot that he wished him to finally rest. By chaining Fortunato to the wall, Montressor could work at his own pace without the worry of escape.
It may have been a bit complicated, but it turned out to be a perfect crime. 24. Do you think the degree of revenge described in the story is ever justified? What other actions could Montresor have taken? Since Montressor never tells the reader what wrong Fortunato committed against him in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” we can never know if the punishment fit the crime. However, in a civilized society, murder is never a proper retaliation, so I would say it is not a justifiable act. It was a perfect crime, however, so Montressor’s continued freedom must have satisfied him immensely.
Punishing or ridiculing Fortunato without killing him would have left a living witness to contact authorities, so Montressor probably felt he had no choice but to eliminate this possibility. Fortunato’s insult or crime against Montressor may not have been an illegal one, so contacting the authorities may not have been an option. 26. To what extent can the narrator be relied upon to give an accurate portrayal of events? Although Montressor turns out to be a murderer in “The Cask of Amontillado,” he nevertheless turns out to be an excellent storyteller. The story is told
precisely and in a matter-of-fact way. Montressor makes no excuses, nor does he embellish the situation. He does not tell the reader what crime Fortunato has committed against him–perhaps Montressor’s only fault in the retelling of his murder. The events seem perfectly logical, and Montressor’s lack of remorse further magnifies his belief that he is committing a justifiable act. Of course, Montressor could be lying, and the whole story could be concocted. But if he tells the truth, and “for half of a century, no mortal has disturbed” the body, then the evidence still remains in place.
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