Montresor is the narrator of this story. He tells the tale of his revenge against his old
“friend” Fortunato who has wounded him deeply, and is the cause of Montresor’s
revenge. He lures Fortunato into his catacombs saying he has wine for him to taste,
and then buries him in a crypt.
Fortunato is a friend of Montresor who does not know that his friend is planning to
kill him. He is an expert on wines, and believes he knows everything, so he goes with
Fortunato, despite his illness, to taste a rare and expensive wine his friend has just
Luchesi is another wine expert who Fortunato considers unworthy of tasting the
Amontillado, but never appears on the story.
The most important imagery in "The Cask of Amontillado" is the underground
catacomb wine-cellar. With its dark, damp tunnels which seem both enormous and
confining. The cellar shows the strangeness of underground places and Poe's latent
fear of being buried alive.
The wine-cellar is also a crypt, with generations of Montresor's ancestors buried
within. The skeletons and the nitre, which forms on the walls, establish a
frightening atmosphere and increases the sense of claustrophobia; although the
skeletons are long-dead, it is easy to be fearful. The catacomb is a place of death, and
the living should not disturb its silence.
Poe uses irony to throw off the reader, keeping him/her unbalanced and not sure of Montresor
and his intentions. It also serves to make the reader question the narrator of the story: is he
reliable or is he insane? As more information comes to light, the story becomes creepier because
we assume that Montresor must be insane and is committing not only murder, but he is
murdering a decent and kind man.
Fortunato’s name: he is not fortunate
Cask: also literally means “casket.” Though Fortunato seeks a cask of Amontillado, he finds a
casket of death.
Carnival: usually a place of joy and life
“Your health is precious”
Toast for the deaths
"I will not die of a cough." Montresor responds, "true." It appears to be a hopeful statement. It's
Tone & Atmosphere
Atmosphere: The setting of the gloomy catacombs contributes to create a tense atmosphere in the story. Poe
creates this atmosphere when Montresor draws up Fortunato to his inevitable doom.
The Cask of Amontillado is a story of revenge and secret murder. There is no logic for this punishment. It is
a tale of terror. In it, Poe shows us the horrors of pure evil.
Tone: Creepy, Elegant, humorous and dark sarcasm.
Montresor, the main character, describes the mounds of bones and stench of human remains so elegantly.
The following passage is a good example:
“We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep
crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.”
The creepily humorous appears to be entertaining. Montresor’s sinister jokes make us believe, for a
moment, that everything is going be OK. If we can still laugh, it must not be so bad. When things get rough
for Fortunato, we feel a little guilty for having laughed before.
'Pass you hand,' I said,'over the wall; you cannot help feeling the niter. Indeed it is very damp. Once more
let me implore you to return...
HEARKEN : to listen attentively.
CASK: a wine cask having a capacity of 126
CATACOMB : underground cemetery.
FETTER: A device, usually one of a pair of
rings connected to a chain, that is attached to
the ankles or feet to restrict movement.
IMMOLATION : to kill.
NITRE : a colourless or white crystalline
compound used, eg: preservative for foods.
FLAMBEAUX: a lighted torch
SCONCES: a flat candlestick with a handle
MASONRY: Stonework or brickwork
CRYP: a subterranean chamber or vault, used as a burial place
AMONTILLADO: A pale dry Spanish wine
GAIT: A particular way of moving on foot
NICHE: A recess in a wall, as for holding a statue or urn