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The Dissection and Synthesis of the Cask of Amontillado



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    In 1846, Edgar Allan Poe published his work, “The Cask of Amontillado. ” The story is told from the perspective of Montresor, who seeks revenge on Fortunato, a man who has given Montresor many reasons to avenge him. The story begins with Montresor describing his dark feelings toward Fortunato, giving reason for his dismal intentions to attain his revenge against Fortunato. Montresor states that he has given Fortunato no reason to doubt his will. Montresor points out that Fortunato has a weakness, for prides himself for his love of wine.

    Montresor makes use of Fortunato’s intoxication and trust in his friend, to ultimately lead Fortunato into his own tomb where his corpse will forever rest. Poe uses devices like dialogue, irony, and dramatic monologue to help the tale unfold through the words of Montresor. Throughout the story, there is heavy use of dialogue to explain how the situation unfolds. Montresor came across Fortunato one evening at twilight, during the carnival season. Fortunato was dressed in motley costume and already intoxicated when he came upon Montresor.

    Montresor told Fortunato of his recently acquired Amontillado, and explained that he was on his way to visit Luchresi, to determine if it was indeed Amontillado that Montresor had purchased. Fortunato was certain that, “Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry,” so he insisted that he went with Montresor to his vaults. (Poe, pp. 101. ) This was a bad decision on Fortunato’s behalf, having no suspicion of Montresor’s intentions. They spoke of the nitre and Fortunato’s cough, leading Montresor to discourage Fortunato to continue on. Fortunato said himself that he would not die of a cough. Poe, pp. 102. ) So they continued further into the catacombs and to drink on their way. Fortunato took a drink of Medoc, and said, “I drink, to the buried that repose around us. ”(Poe, pp. 103. ) The response given by Montresor, “And I to your long life,” (Poe, pp. 103. ) was very paradoxical, considering Montresor’s distinct awareness of what was about to occur, and that Fortunato’s “long life” was about to come to an abrupt halt. The dialogue used in the story helps to significantly develop the situation as Montresor carries out his plot for revenge.

    The story is riddled with irony in the words spoken between Montresor and Forunato. As they made their trek into the catacombs, Montresor said to Fortunato, “Come, we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as I once was. 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. ” This was when Fortunato replied, “Enough, the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough. ” So Montresor replied, “True-true. ” (Poe, pp. 102- 103. In that moment, Montresor replied with full knowledge that Fortunato’s life would be ending soon by Montresor’s own acts against him, and not simply because of a cough. Soon after these words were spoken was when Montresor toasted to Fortunato’s long life, knowing it would shortly be coming to an end. The pair continued their pursuit, and once again Montresor expressed that the nitre was worsening and persisted that they must go back because of Fortunato’s cough, yet Fortunato continued to insist that it was nothing, and drank some more Medoc. (Poe, pp. 103. Fortunato moved in a manner of gesticulation, which Montresor did not seem to conceive.

    Fortunato said, “Then you are not of the brotherhood… You are not of the masons. ” To which Montresor replied, “Yes, yes,” repeating himself. Fortunato then said, “You? Impossible! A mason? ” Then he asked Montresor for a sign. So Montresor produced a trowel, intended to for use for stone masonry, from beneath his cloak, and he said, “It is this. ” (Poe, pp. 103. ) At this moment, Montresor had revealed to him a piece of his plan, that would climactically end in Fortunato’s demise. You jest,” was all Fortunato thought of the gesture, “but let us proceed to the Amontillado. ” Fortunato had no idea of what is to come. Montresor said, “Be it so,” and he placed the tool back in its place beneath his cloak. (Poe, pp. 103-104. ) Soon Fortunato’s path was prevented the wall of the catacomb, and that niche is where he would forever remain. The trowel that Montresor had exposed to Fortunato earlier, was the same tool that was used to plaster the stones and mortar to close in the niche, Fortunato’s own tomb. Montresor said to him, after chaining him to the wall, “Pass your hand over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre.

    Indeed, it is very damp, let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I will first render you all the little attentions in my power. ” (Poe, pp. 104. ) Montresor basically teases Fortunato in this moment, for he can no longer decide to return from the catacombs, as Montresor had been suggesting. Montresor sought his revenge on Fortunato while seemingly acting as a good friend, and successfully achieved it. Dramatic monologue is very prevalent in “The Cask of Amontillado. ” This is because Montresor reveals to the reader his private thoughts and feelings regarding the matter, without actually speaking of it.

    He does this early within the story by making a point about revenge. He says (without actually speaking the words,) that he must punish with impunity (Poe, pp. 101. ) By stating this he means that he will punish with no exemption of punishment. He follows up saying that, “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, pp. 101. ) Montresor is expressing that if a person seeking revenge commits an act and is then punished, the wrong has been undone.

    It is also not successful if the person seeking revenge does not make it known that he is the one who has avenged him. Montresor has created a plan to make sure he will accomplish his quest for revenge without it being known to anyone but Fortunato himself, what he has done. The fact that Montresor says these things in the introduction of the story quickly establishes that he has a plan for his old friend’s grim future. Montresor explains that he smiles to Fortunato’s face, but that now his “smile was at the thought of his [Fortunato’s] immolation. (Poe, pp. 101. Montresor kept his feelings quiet and gave Fortunato no reason to doubt his good will, which ultimately helped Montresor to accomplish his sinister deed. Edgar Allan Poe wrote an interesting tale of horror and deceit in, “The Cask of Amontillado. ” He combined the use of literary devices like dialogue, irony, and dramatic monologue to expertly tell a story of the end of poor Fortunato, who suffered a tragic death after trusting his friend Montresor to lead him to the rare Amontillado. When Montresor was finishing his construction of Fortunato’s tomb, he tossed a burning torch inside, and heard nothing but the jingling of bells.

    Montresor felt sick in the heart, but concluded that it was the dampness of the catacombs that caused him to feel that way, so he finished the wall and retreated. He last said, “In pace requiescat! ”(May he rest in peace. )(Poe, pp. 105. ) As Fortunato did without ever being discovered until Montresor decided to tell of his deed.

    Works Cited

    Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Amontillado. ” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Tenth Edition. Peter Simon. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Pp. 101-105. Print.

    The Dissection and Synthesis of the Cask of Amontillado. (2017, Jan 30). Retrieved from

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