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“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

This is very well-thought out story of revenge involving two enemies, in which a man, Montresor elaborately plans the demise of his foe Fortunato. Montresor chooses the the timing to seek his revenge perfectly. It is the time of the carnival (Mardi Gras). The carnival in itself creates a great diversion. It’s a particularly haphazard and crazy time. Fortunato is quite drunk, and much too trusting of Montresor. He even throws a mask and cloak over Montresor, making their departure from the carnival even less conspicuous.

Montresor subtly plays Fortunato’s ego in order to convince him to leave the carnival and sample some Amontllado that he had supposedly just purchased. Montresor keeps mentioning that he was on the way to have Luchresi sample the wine and get his opinion on its authenticity. He knows that Fortunato would never give up an opportunity to sample such a fine wine, nor would his ego allow an “inferior” connoisseur to judge the quality of the wine. The way in which Montresor manipulates Fortunato’s ego is masterful.

Montresor knows the servants have left for the evening because he ordered them not to abandon the house, but told them that he would not be returning until morning. He knew that during this time of merriment the servants would disappear as soon as he turned his back. He lures Fortunato deeper and deeper into the family catacombs where the cask of amontillado was supposedly stored. Fortunato had a cold in the catacombs’ mold aggravated his cough. Montresor kept offering Fortunato the chance to turn around and go back, but he also kept mentioning Luchresi’s name.

Once Montresor lures Fortunato to the deepest part of the catacombs, he shackles Fortunato to the walls of a small chamber. Montresor pushes aside a pile of bones that had concealed stones and mortar. He proceeds, brick by brick, to seal Fortunato in the chamber. To Montresor’s disappointment, Fortunato actually ends up coughing himself to death before the last stone was in place. Montresor must have been terribly upset, for he had planned out every detail of this murder, and I’m sure he was counting on Fortunato’s slow and painful death while sealed in the walls of the catacombs.

There are two ironic bits of conversation that deserve mentioning. When Montresor nearly insists that they turn back because of Fortunato’s cough, Fortunato says “I shall not die of a cough.” It turns out that in the end, he actually does die of a cough. Also, Fortunato brings up the subject of the Masons. Montresor shows in a trowel, a trowel that will assist in the masonry that will end up making Fortunato a permanent fixture in the catacombs.

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