September 29, 2014
“Cask of Amontillado” Reflection Questions
1. How many characters does Poe include in The Cask of Amontillado? What are their names?
-Two; Montresor and Fortunato
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).
-Revenge is of great value to Montresor
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 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."
-The story never says why Montresor seeks revenge on Fortuanto.
5. Does Montresor seem to have much respect for Italians? Which lines in the
paragraph above reveal his contempt?
-No, Montresor refers to the Italians as quacks. Meaning someone is fake not genuine.
6. What was Fortunato's insult?
7. Why does Montresor entertain Fortunato with wines from his collection?
- Montresor entertains Fortuanto with wines while in the catacombs to get him drunk. Montresor does this so that Fortuanto is not able to fight back or realize what is going on.
8. In what two ways does Montresor imprison Fortunato?
-Montresor chains Fortunato to the wall and builds the wall.
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?
-It is grotesque because the main character buries his enemy alive.
10. Is there anything grotesque about Fortunato?
-Fortuanto is rude, cocky, and he is mean enough to insult Montresor to the point that Montresor wanted to kill him.
11. List three examples of foreshadowing in the story.
-“I’m not going to die from a cough,” says Fortuanto, “True—true” replied Montresor.
-Montresor and Fortuanto’s names.
-Montresor toasted to Fortuanto’s long life.
12. What mood is imparted on the reader?
-A chilling, gloomy, eery mood is imparted on the reader.
13. What is the setting of the story?
-The story takes place inside Montresor’s catacombs. At the time of Mardi Gras, or carnival.
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."
3 things Poe feels that are important in a short story.
Base story on one event.
First sentence must pull you in
The story should leave you feeling one clear way.
How well does Poe follow his own rules?
14. What is the single effect of the story on the reader?
-The story is shocking.
15. How do all incidents help Poe to establish this effect?
-Montresor buries Fortuanto in the wall. Montresor yells and screams back to Fortuanto while he is in the wall.
16. How does the first sentence bring out the horror of the tale?
-It clearly says that this is a tale about revenge, and as a reader you are eager to read on and see what is about to happen.
17. How does the whole story follow a single pre-established design?
-Montresor brings Fortuanto down to the catacombs, and kills him.
18. Does the reader feel satisfied at the end of the story?
-The story left me feeling really chilled and creeped out.