“Cask of Amontillado” Reflection Questions
1. How many characters does Poe include in The Cask of Amontillado? What are
Three and their names were Montresor, Fortunato and Luchesi.
2. What drink are the French most famous for?
3. Does Montresor have something of great value to him that we might consider to be his treasure? Hint: It is not the Amontillado wine (which is Spanish
anyway, not French, and doesn't really exist-it is merely a trick to get Fortunato
to go down into the catacombs).His pride and the pride of his French family heritage. Perhaps his devious plot of revenge.
4. How did Fortunato cause Montresor to lose face in the story?
The third paragraph of the story appears in full below. Read it carefully and try to
imagine how Fortunato might have insulted Montresor.He insulted him: Montresor's ability to taste and distinguish fine wine.
"He had a weak point—this Fortunato—although in other regards he was a man to be
respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few
Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit
the time and opportunity to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires.
In painting and gemmary Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of
old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially;—I was skillful in
the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could."
5. Does Montresor seem to have much respect for Italians? Which lines in the
paragraph above reveal his contempt?No, he called them a quack. Montresor does not have much respect for Italians. He feels the French are superior, especially with respect to wine.
6. What was Fortunato's insult?We don't know because it won't included in the story.
7. Why does Montresor entertain Fortunato with wines from his collection?To get him drunk so he can go on with his revenge.
8. In what two ways does Montresor imprison Fortunato?He fetters Fortunate to the wall of the catacombs.He builds a wall to close Fortunato off in a small corner of the catacombs, where Montresor will leave him to die.
The story, The Cask of Amontillado, first appeared in an anthology of Poe's
stories entitled Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Arabesque comes from the word Arab and refers to ornaments, decorations and motifs in Arabic art, where figures of flowers, fruits and sometimes animal outlines appear in elaborate patterns of interlaced lines. particularly those which have been borrowed by other cultures. Such arabesque patterns are reflected in some of the designs and motifs of the batik of Indonesia and Malaysia.
By analogy, then, an arabesque story is one of intricate design, which is told
through the use of fanciful language. Because arabesque graphic designs sometimes depict fantastic creatures, Poe and others also applied this term to tales that dealt with fantastic or supernatural happenings. Grotesque refers to something distorted, ugly, abnormal, fantastic, or bizarre to the point of being ludicrous or absurd. In a grotesque story, characters are physically or psychologically deformed and engage in actions that may be abnormal or comically absurd.
9. In what ways is The Cask of Amontillado grotesque? First, which of Montresor's actions are abnormal?The wall of the catacombs. He builds a wall to close Fortunato off in a small corner of the catacombs, where Montresor will leave him to die. His sick humor and obsessive plot of revenge.
10. Is there anything grotesque about Fortunato?Not a physical grotesque.
- His obsession with alcohol.
- His drunkenness.
- His tendency to berate Luchesi (he may have been drunk and may have insulted Montresor in a similar fashion).
- His manic laughter.
- He insulting people.
11. List three examples of foreshadowing in the story.The jingling of the bells, Fortunato means fortunate ironic because he's not lucky throughout the story; cask: wine barrel or casket
12. What mood is imparted on the reader?Creeped out and unsettled.
13. What is the setting of the story?Catacombs; During the Carnival in the spring.
There are also numerous comic touches that Poe adds to this grotesque tale.
•Fortunato's name means lucky in Italian. This is ironic language play, as he was
hardly the lucky one in this story.
•Fortunato is dressed in a court jester's or fool's garb, complete with striped outfit
and cap and bells.
•The jingling of the bells of the cap in the catacombs.
•Montresor's exaggerated concern for Fortunato's health.
•A joke: Not knowing Montresor plans to kill him, Fortunato says, I shall not die of
a cough. To which Montresor replies, True-true.
•Pun: Montresor telling Fortunato he is a mason. (Fortunato was referring to
members of the society of Freemasons). Montresor reveals the trowel (a tool
used to apply mortar or cement) which he will use to build the wall which
•Fortunato's drunken condition.
•Fortunato bumping into the dead end of the niche where he will be entombed
and then looking bewildered.
•Fortunato's delirious laughter at the end.
•Another pun: Let us be gone. Montresor repeats Fortunato's words, not saying
that they shall leave together, but that Fortunato will be gone from this life.
Poe and the Short Story
Testing Poe's Theory of the Short Story on his own writing
Many critics consider Poe to be the father of the modern short story. He was the
first writer to define the short story as a distinct literary form. In a review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's anthology, Twice-Told Tales in Graham's Magazine, May 1842, he described his personal theory on how to construct a "tale":
"A skillful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to
accommodate his incidents: but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique
or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents—he then combines
such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial
sentence tends not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In
the whole composition there should be no work written, of which the tendency, direct or
indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and
skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with
a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction."
How well does Poe follow his own rules?
14. What is the single effect of the story on the reader? Revenge: it is a story about vengence.
15. How do all incidents help Poe to establish this effect? The bad death; murder
16. How does the first sentence bring out the horror of the tale? Tells us montresor is out for revenge.
17. How does the whole story follow a single pre-established design? Revenge
18. Does the reader feel satisfied at the end of the story? If you felt shocked, unnerved or creeped out then that is the satisfied feeling Poe wanted you to feel.