The Cask of Amontillado


Outline


5º C


12/09/04


Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)


American poet, a master of the horror tale, credited with practically inventing the detective story.

Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who were itinerant actors. His father David Poe Jr. died probably in 1810 and his mother Elizabeth Hopkins Poe in 1811. Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond merchant John Allan and brought up partly in England (1815-20), where he attended Manor School at Stoke Newington. Never legally adopted, Poe took Allan\'s name for his middle name.

Poe attended the University of Virginia (1826), but was expelled for not paying his gambling debts. This led to a quarrel with Allan, who later disowned him. In 1827 Poe joined the U.S. Army as a common soldier under assumed name and age. In 1830 Poe entered West Point and was dishonorably discharged next year, for intentional neglect of his duties.

Little is known about his life in this time, but in 1833 he lived in Baltimore with his father\'s sister. After winning a prize of $50 for the short story "MS Found in a Bottle," he started a career as a staff member of various magazines, among others the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond (1835-37), Burton\'s Gentleman\'s Magazine in Philadelphia (1839-40), and Graham\'s Magazine (1842-43). During these years he wrote some of his best-known stories.

In 1836 Poe married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. She burst a blood vessel in 1842, and remained a virtual invalid until her death from tuberculosis five years later. After the death of his wife, Poe began to lose his struggle with drinking and drugs. He addressed the famous poem "Annabel Lee" (1849) to her.

Poe\'s first collection, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, appeared in 1840. It contained one of his most famous works, "The Fall of the House of Usher." During the early 1840s Poe\'s best-selling work was The Conchologist\'s First Book (1839). The dark poem of lost love, "The Raven," brought Poe national fame, when it appeared in 1845. The Murders in the Rue Morgue(1841) and The Purloined Letter are among Poe\'s most famous detective stories. Poe was also one of the most prolific literary journalists in American history.

Poe suffered from bouts of depression and madness, and he attempted suicide in 1848. In September the following year he disappeared for three days after a drink at a birthday party and on his way to visit his new fiancée in Richmond. He turned up in a delirious condition in Baltimore gutter and died on October 7, 1849.


Title


The Cask of Amontillado


Theme


"The Cask of Amontillado" is a powerful tale of revenge. Montresor, the sinister narrator of this tale, pledges revenge upon Fortunato for an insult.


Setting


The story begins around dusk, one evening during the carnival season in an unnamed European city. The location quickly changes from the lighthearted activites associated with such a festival to the damp, dark catacombs under Montressor\'s palazzo which helps to establish the sinister atmosphere of the story.


Plot


“The Cask of Amontillado" is a tale based on revenge. Montressor is determined to murder Fortunato in the beginning of the story. He approaches Fortunato and tells him that he has doubts about his taste because, he does not think that the Amontillado wine tastes as good as people say it does. Making Fortunato furious, Montressor tells him that his friend Luchresi will help taste the wine. Fortunato insists that Luchresi does not know a thing about fine wine and he insist that Montressor take him to his wine cellar so he can taste the wine for himself. Montressor is internally satisfied that Fortunato takes his bait and they venture into the Montressor\'s tomb-like wine cellar. As the two characters find their way through the dark catacombs, Montressor asks Fortunato if he wants to turn back. Each time Montressor asks, Fortunato ironically tells him that he wants to go on to find the wine cellar. The men reach a small crypt, deep in the catacombs and Montressor proceeds to shackle Fortunato to a stone. Montressor then builds a stone wall that encloses Fortunato inside the crypt. Thinking Montressor is playing a practical joke, Fortunato laughs hysterically as Montressor builds the wall. Realizing that