The Cask of Amontillado is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story was first published in The Gift for the Holy Days in 1846, however, The Cask of Amontillado can be found under different names. The name ‘The Angel of the Odd’ appeared on the Miniscule Manuscript Collection published between 1833 and 1849, and The Immortal Beloved was proposed when The Cask of Amontillado appeared in Tales from The French. The name The Cask of Amontillado is the one used when The Cask Of Amontillado appeared for the first time ever in The Gift for the Holy Days.
The story follows Montresor, a man seeking revenge on his friend Fortunato after he insulted Montresor’s family honor. Seeking to do this, Montresor intends to murder Fortunato during Carnival when he will be drunk, dizzy and wearing a jester costume. Montresor lures Fortunato down into his basement by telling him that he has obtained a Cask of Amontillado wine, one of the most sought-after wines in Italy. The two men go down into the basement wherein Montresor chains Fortunato by his ankle to a brick wall then leaves him there to die.
The story is narrated by Montresor during the French Revolution. The bulk of literary analysis focuses on finding out why Montresor tells his story and what he hopes to gain from it. The short story The Cask of Amontillado was first published in The Gift for the Holy Days in 1846, with The Cask Of Amontillado being its name at that time. The story was then reprinted as The Immortal Beloved when it appeared in Tales from the French Volume 2 in 1857. The name The Cask of Amontillado was finally used when The Cask Of Amontillado appeared in The Gift for the Holy Days’ second edition in 1875.
The story takes place in an unspecified year, but probably at some point during the 18th century. The narrator Montresor says that he had been hurt by Fortunato’s insults and slights for many years before he kills him. The story is about revenge and how far one man is willing to go to get it. The action takes place over a period of six months, which are later described as being ‘six whole days’. The setting occurs primarily within two rooms, both below ground level: the first consists of a niche or alcove with an opening into a wine-cellar, with access to the modern streets above provided by a flight of steps.
The second includes an exterior courtyard surrounded on three sides by two stories of buildings containing numerous rooms rented out to various people who are largely nameless and whose actions are largely unimportant. The passage of time is uncertain, but it seems probable that it takes place over the course of about twelve hours; ample references to sundry sounds made by tenants moving overhead indicate that nightfall has fallen before Montresor reveals his secret plan to Fortunato.
The story begins late one afternoon in late October (which might correspond either to October 14 or November 13) and ends very early the following morning (the day beginning probably not later than 8 am). The action occurs primarily in the wine cellars of a low-brow Italian nobleman named The Count, who is never actually seen during the story. The dialogue between Montresor and Fortunato occurs at night, over a period of several hours.
The majority of The Cask of Amontillado takes place within two levels: an interior level where such spaces as the niche and the courtyard are located; and an exterior level consisting entirely of dungeon-like chambers underground. The action itself consists mainly of three events – first, Montresor lures his victim to the vaults underneath his palazzo (and briefly reasons with him), then kills him and entombs him; finally (and some considerable time afterwards) he brags about his crime to an unspecified person, who may or may not exist.
The conclusion follows Montresor’s supposedly definitive revenge. The story is narrated in the first-person by Montresor, the vengeful nobleman seeking to punish his enemy Fortunato for a slight insult to his family honor. The narration includes little dialogue and almost no descriptions of the thoughts or feelings of characters other than Montresor himself. The name “Montresor” could suggest nobility (as in Counts de Monte Cristo), but it is equally possible that it derives from “monte,” suggesting greed and cruelty, given Fortunato’s final fate.
The narrator’s descent into crime begins when he decides that his long-suffering friend and dupe Fortunato has insulted his family name. The story begins with Montresor seeking to avenge himself on the jester, who at some point prior had played a practical joke of making him drink from a cask of what he believes is Amontillado wine when in fact it is merely common sherry . The two men spend some time wandering around Paris’s catacombs while Fortunato drinks copiously from the so-called “cask of amontillado.
The nature of this “cask” is never fully explained; its contents are only said to be ‘not worth… the trouble of withdrawing’ (as Jacques would term it). The narrator offers several inconsistent accounts of why he lured Fortunato into an elaborate revenge plot. The most widely believed is that the insult was a reference to a jest at the expense of a member of his family, whose honor he therefore jeopardized. The narrator himself claims only thereby to have been revenged upon Fortunato for an injury which had been done him in their boyhood.
The event being so long past, and never known by Montresor until revealed by the bon mot , the motivation seems weak; however, his perception of this slight may have grown with time and been amplified by alcohol-fueled resentments. The bon mot itself is never directly revealed in The Cask of Amontillado though it can be implied from what people say to each other before they go into the catacombs. The insult is also seen as having been a reference to the misfortunes of Montresor’s family, whose nobility had suffered in the years since the French Revolution.
The story opens with Montresor preparing for his revenge, but not acting immediately. A week passes during which he courts Fortunato by inviting him to dinner several times and seems to be without any actual motive for doing so. The first mention of The Cask of Amontillado occurs when Montresor invites Fortunato to one of their dinners: The narrator then reveals that he has acquired “a bottle of most valuable wine” (the cask mentioned above), which should be drunk at the meeting; this drink will supposedly aid them in recognizing each other if they should ever re-encounter each other.
The next time Montresor encounters Fortunato, he tempts him with a free sample of the supposedly invaluable wine and tells his intended victim that he is to be invited to dinner at the palazzo on the following evening. The invitation is made as if there was something more than friendship that motivated it; however, Montresor makes clear that this is not the case by saying: The two men travel to Montresor’s ancestral home in an ox-drawn wagon.