“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe. 1. CHARACTERIZE Montresor. What kind of person is he?. Concerned with honor – kills Fortunato over an “insult” Cruel – taunts Fortunato by showing him the trowel and screaming w/him when walling him up
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1. CHARACTERIZE Montresor. What kind of person is he? • Concerned with honor – kills Fortunato over an “insult” • Cruel – taunts Fortunato by showing him the trowel and screaming w/him when walling him up • Manipulative – entraps Fortunato using F’s own self-perception; servants • Sociopathic/psychopathic – commits murder with little evidence of remorse
2. Why might Fortunato’s name be IRONIC? • He is not fortunate in his interactions with Montresor, which lead to his death. • This is the opposite of what we might expect for someone whose name implies good luck or fortune.
3. Give examples of IRONY in the story, including SITUATIONAL, DRAMATIC, and VERBAL IRONY. • Situational: Fortunato expects Amontillado and instead receives death • Dramatic: Fortunato doesn’t know he’ll be killed; but reader does, and thus gets the trowel joke and the cough joke • Verbal: the compliments M pays to F; M ALSO “implores” F to return.
4. How does not knowing what Fortunato did to Montresor intensify the horror of this story? • One could imagine that Fortunato’s offense is quite minor or unintentional and that Montresor is a particularly cruel person • One could imagine his/her own friends or acquaintances behaving like Montresor
5. Would the story be better or worse if you knew what Fortunato did to Montresor? Explain. • Might be worse– Poe’s idea of what is “horrifying” might not match your idea of “horrifying. • Might be better—Poe manages to tap into your deepest, most secret fears.
6. How does Montresor manipulate Fortunato? What CHARACTER TRAITS make Fortunato easy prey for Montresor? • Fortunato is really proud of his ability to judge fine wines and is competitive with others to show his skill. He also likes to drink. • Montresor appeals to Fortunato’s pride w/the story of the cask, and uses Luchresi to appeal to F’s competitive nature; he also preys on F’s drunkenness
7. What is the setting? What details of the setting contribute to the horror of this story? • Italy – mentions Italians; names seem Italian • During the carnival season Probably mid-1800s as the word “millionaire” as coined around 1820-1830. • Horror: catacombs, nitre, midnight
8. Explain the MOOD of this story. Give examples from the text to support your answer. • Horrifying – • Montresor toys with Fortunato, • showing nitre, • taunting about cough • and trowel • Fortunato is unsteady and drunk when killed • while Montresor is calculating and efficient
9. Who is the PROTAGONIST of this story? Justify your answer. • It is Montresor • He is the one pursuing a goal, even if we think it’s a negative goal • The reader gets most insight into his motives and thoughts.
10. Who is the ANTAGONIST of this story? Defend your answer. • It is Fortunato • He is in conflict with Montresor (the protagonist) because he has insulted Montresor
11. Who is the narrator of this story? What kind of narrator is he? • Montresor is the narrator • First person limited (uses “I”; doesn’t give Fortunato’s thoughts • May be unreliable • Doesn’t explain the “insult” • Might have pangs of conscience • “My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs…” • Why is he telling this story 50 years later? possibly deathbed confession?
12. Explain a symbol in the story. • The cask of Amontillado could symbolize the wealth associated with a rare item, which motivates both characters • Montresor’s coat of arms could symbolize his revenge against Fortunato’s insult • Fortunato’s fool costume symbolizes his foolishness and greed
12. Explain a symbol in the story. (cont.) • Carnival symbolizes a topsy-turvy society that allows such a murder • The house and catacomb—symbolize Montresor’s personality, which is pleasant on the outside (house), but filled with death and darkness on the inside (catacombs).
More Irony… • Fortunatomeans fortunate in Italian, an ironic name for someone about to be walled up in the catacombs. • Montresor's continued efforts to talk Fortunato out of coming with him only serve to excite the latter and encourage his coming.
Montresor's behavior toward Fortunatois described as follows: "It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation."
Montresor's first words to Fortunatoare "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met." Fortunato thinks Montresor means he is happy to see him because of his expertise. What Montresor means is the meeting is lucky because carnival presents an excellent time for murder.
Fortunato exclaims, "I will not die of a cough." Montresor responds, "true." It appears to be a hopeful statement. It's actually a wicked statement. He then drinks to Fortunato's "long life," which Montresor soon ends. • The conversation regarding the Masons demonstrates an ironic misunderstanding: Fortunato refers to the Masonic order, a secret society of brothers; Montresor pulls out a trowel, a reference to bricklayers. In that respect, Montresor is a mason
Fortunato's last words before being chained to the rock are "he [Luchesi] is an ignoramus." In reality, Fortunato is the ignoramus, a chained-to-the-wall ignoramus. • Montresor's reaction to the crime he commits is described as follows: "My heart grew sick -- on account of the dampness of the catacombs." His heart grows sick on account of the weather, not because he just buried a man alive. That's ironic.