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The Cask of Amontillado (NOTES)

The Cask of Amontillado (NOTES)

Author: Bryce Schoenherr

In this Poe4You tutorial, we will cover the clues behind the Amontillado.

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Before You Start

   As you read this, you should have already read the story.  I have another tutorial called "The Cask of Amontillado (STORY)" if you do need to read it.  You may want to have the story by you or at least have the story in a new tab.  I'm pretty sure you are good to go now.


   Montresor, as the narrator, seems unreliable(as do most of Poe's characters) because of madness.  You can see an example of this at the beginning:

"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge."

   This seems strange that he could handle injuries, but once he was insulted, he wanted to kill Fortunato.  Here's a quote in which Montresor tells us what successful revenge consists of:

"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."

   What he is saying is that revenge is successful if he does not get caught AND if the one killed knows it was him who did it.  You can pretty much see insanity there because most people don't talk about what a successful murder consists of.

   What to know something you probably overlooked?  Montresor means:

"to show fate."


"In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere."
   Fact #1 about Fortunato:  he lies about painting and gemmary(gems), but is knowledgeable in wines.

   Fortunato shows pride of his knowledge of winery throughout the short story.  Unfortunately, this is what kills him.
   His name is also a form of irony.  Fortunato is not very fortunate.

Brainstorm-Special Items

Concept to Know-Coat of Arms and Motto

   This object help create a mysterious mood.  The Montresor family crest is:
"A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel."
   This can be interpreted as revenge, but seems more intimidating at first than the motto.  But once you know what it means, the motto will be more daunting.   Nemo me impune lacessit is Latin for:
"No one provokes me with impunity"
   Now that's interesting.  Again, we see the revenge factor.  Who knew Poe was so good at sneaking in things like that?

Concept to Know-The Medoc & De Grave

   These are cheap wines that Montresor used to get Fortunato drunk, making him willing to follow.

Concept to Know-The Amontillado

   Other than the fact that the Amontillado did not exist in this story except in the imagination, there wasn't much you could find out about it.  I went further and looked up what Google said about it.  This is its definition of Amontillado:

n.  a medium dry sherry

   All sorts of alarms went off in my head.  Remember this passage?

Montresor-  "As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me --"

Fortunato-  "Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."

   What does this mean?  Does the Sherry in this passage mean a regular Sherry, or is Fortunato not as intelligent in wines as we think?  Did he just misspeak from his slight drunkenness at the beginning?  This is a topic that can be interpreted many ways.


   As we read, we see a ton of irony and it is sort of funny to us because we know things the characters don't.  This adds a lot to the story, but we're here to decipher it.  This will include many examples, so I'll just list them.

"Ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh!"

   My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.
   "It is nothing," he said, at last.
   "Come," I said, with decision, "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. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchresi --"
   "Enough," he said; "the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough."
   "Enough," he said; "the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough."
   "True --true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily --but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps."
   "I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us."
   "And I to your long life."
   "You? Impossible! A mason?"
   "A mason," I replied.
   "A sign," he said, "a sign."
   "It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.


Script Writer: Bryce Schoenherr

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Librarians: Bryce Schoenherr