The stories of Edgar Allan Poe impress a lot with their gloominess, terrible reality, and cruelness. The Cask of Amontillado is one of such stories with a simple plot but rather complicated techniques and ideas. On the one hand, The Cask of Amontillado is a story of one person’s revenge over another person. On the other hand, it is a complex set of events, hidden intentions, and the inabilities to gain control over the emotions the main character believes he controls properly. In the current paper, the setting, characterization, narration, and plot of The Cask of Amontillado are analyzed to understand true intentions of the author and realize how many complicated things may be hidden between the lines of a short story where the revenge of the main character fulfills all the actions and words and defines the climax that impresses the reader.
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There are no definite data or addresses described in the story; still, it is mentioned that “it was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season” (Poe 107). As soon as the main characters left the carnival, the main setting of The Cask of Amontillado was the catacombs of the Montresors where a cask of amontillado could supposedly be and then a particular vault where Fortunato was immured.
There are two main characters in The Cask of Amontillado; however, three names are actually mentioned, that is why it is possible to admit that one character, whose name is mentioned only, is supportive. The main character, Montresor, is the protagonist (still, his intentions to take an act of revenge and kill a person by means of torturing cannot be defined as good ones). Another important character, Fortunato, is the antagonist, who has insulted the protagonist before the actual events are described in The Cask of Amontillado. Finally, Luchresi is a kind of supporting character, who is mentioned as an ignoramus, not able to “tell Amontillado from Sherry” (Poe 111).
The Cask of Amontillado is the story told by Montresor, a member of a “great and numerous family” (Poe 1019), who has huge catacombs and the vaults with a number of wine bottles. It is a character narrator, who begins his story with the description of his true feelings and coming plans in regards to Fortunato, who has offended him recently, and continues the description of the situation, the main characters are.
The peculiar feature of the character is his ability to weight all aspects of his thoughts and the desire to be avenged with “a point definitely, settled – but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk” (Poe 107). Montresor narrates that it is not enough to punish Fortunato, it is more important to punish him with impunity (Poe 107). Such explanations and plans introduce the main character, the narrator of the story, as a person with high ambitions and the inability to forget or forgive, but the necessity to take revenge and end Fortunato’s life within a short period of time.
One of the most amazing things of The Cask of Amontillado is the possibility to find some controversial aspects in a simple story. The central issue in The Cask of Amontillado is the idea of revenge and the necessity to make the antagonist suffer as soon as the action is taken. A perfectly developed plan how to make Fortunato regret about his past insults in regards to Montresor is the center of the story. In the beginning, the characters are introduced as noble men, the members of society, and wine experts, who like to follow the traditions and appreciate the quality of food and drinks.
However, the intentions Montresor actually has can be hardly defined as those of a noble man. He is blind in his desire to revenge and make Fortunato regret of his past words or actions. However, the author does not find it necessary to describe the reasons for Montresor’s anger. It is one of those things that may confuse or interest the reader. At the same time, the central theme of the story can become the idea of the instability of the facts that turn out to be evident. For example, Fortunato is introduced as an expert in vines, but his conditions can hardly be stable because of the number of drinks used during the carnival.
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A number of questions also take place around the conflict that took place between the characters before the events described in The Cask of Amontillado. It is hard to understand what makes Montresor come to the conclusion to kill Fortunato and why Fortunato cannot even guess that Montresor may have some negative feelings towards his personality. Both characters have families, and someone can easily notice a conflict or some misunderstandings between these two people. However, the narrator states clearly that “for the half of a century no mortal has disturbed” (Poe 113).
The Cask of Amontillado teaches the reader that any kind of conflict can be solved in a variety of ways. However, each solution is based on the emotions of a person and the conditions under which a conflict takes place. Unfortunately, the reader does not know the reasons for the conflict the narrator has with Fortunato as well as Fortunato himself knows nothing about the problems Montresor and he actually have. During the whole story, it is interesting to observe how Montresor prepares and develops his revenge. It is hard to guess what method he can choose to remind Fortunato about his offenses. As a representative of masons, he can use a shovel to hit his victim to death. However, Montresor chooses another method to make Fortunato suffer – he buries him alive, drunk and enchained.
In general, though The Cask of Amontillado is not the best and the most prominent short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, it turns out to be a powerful example of how a human life can be ended unexpectedly. It is also a story of a human life and the desire to take revenge. The Cask of Amontillado does not contain too complicated phrases or ideas. It discloses the peculiarities of a human soul and the necessity to think about the consequences of human words, thoughts, and actions. Besides, it is necessary to be very careful with people, whose families have such slogans like the Montresors have. “Nemo me impune lacessit” (Poe 110).
It means that no one can offend me and avoid punishment. This motto can depict the central idea, describe the characters, and prove that goal-oriented people can easily achieve everything they want to achieve.
Poe, Edgar, A. “The Cask of Amontillado.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. 107-113. Print.