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The Cask of Amontillado
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Q.    An unreliable narrator may not always know the whole truth or might purposely try to deceive us, which wouldn’t be very nice.  How, and in what way, could Montresor be classified as an unreliable narrator? Explain.

A.     Montresor could be called an unreliable narrator because, near the end of the story, he doesn’t seem entirely sane, and his information could be unreliable or false.

 

Q.    What was Montresor trying to accomplish when he kept coming up with excuses for why Fortunado shouldn’t come with him to his vaults?  What does this strategy tell you about Montresor?  What about Fortunado?

A.     Montresor was trying to lure Fortunado down into his vaults, accomplishing this by saying that he came across a very rare and very fine type of wine known as amontillado.  He also said that, since Fortunado was “engaged”, he would ask someone else to come and inspect it.  This shows how tricky and sly he was.  Fortunado, because of his pride, willingly and definitively said that he would personally inspect the so-called “amontillado.”

 

Q.    On page 176, explain what he meant when Fortunado said, “I forget your arms,” to Montresor. How does this coincide with the story?

A.     When Fortunado asked Montresor what his “arms” were, he was referring to a symbol, or coat of arms, that represents the Montresor family.  The Montresor seal depicted a big golden foot against a blue background, with the foot crushing a snake that is rearing up and biting the heel. The motto is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which means “Nobody attacks me without punishment.” The motto, in a way, symbolizes the revenge of Montresor against Fortunado, with the injuries and insults of Fortunado that Montresor heavily carried.

 

Q.    What was the purpose of the trowel that Montresor was carrying? What does it symbolize? What can you conclude about Monresor’s intentions?

A.     Montresor first used the trowel to show Fortunado that he was indeed a Mason and was in the brotherhood. But a trowel is a tool for stonework, so you can also conclude that he might do some digging or stonework later on.

 

Q.    Compare the story “The Cask of Amontillado” to the newspaper article (summary on page 178) about a man being buried alive. Could Poe have gotten his inspiration from this story, or was it another thing that drove him to write this story?

A.     The newspaper article depicted a man being buried alive, in a church with no one around. The writer that found the body supposed that the motive was revenge. He also said that only a noble (like Fortunado or Montresor) could have cleared out the whole building. Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Cask of Amontillado” a year after the writer found the body in the church, so it just may have been what inspired him to write this story.

 

Q.    What can you infer about Montresor’s state of mind when he sat back and stopped building the wall to listen to Fortunado’s screams?

A.     I think at that point, Montresor has ventured into insanity. He seems to like the fact that his enemy, and fellow businessman and wine connoisseur, is dying. This is one of the reasons why he could be considered unreliable.

 

Q.    Take into consideration the time the story was written and what the critics were saying about his work. Could this story be more than just a revenge story? Explain.

A.     This story was written in 1846, and it could represent many different things. It could be to get even with the ruthless critics who always had put down his ideas. Or it could have been to show Poe’s hatred for his father, Allan Poe, who was Scottish, like Montresor, and was also a businessman and Mason, like Fortunado.

 

Q.    Near the end of the story, why do you think Montresor’s heart “grew sick?” Was it really because of the dampness and cold of the catacombs, or was it something more?

A.     I personally think that Montresor’s heart “grew sick” because of the realization that hit him when he saw that Fortunado was actually dead, and that he was a murderer. Even though Montresor hated Fortunado, he couldn’t help but feel pity when he saw that his long-time rival was dead.

 

Q.    An unreliable narrator may not always know the whole truth or might purposely try to deceive us, which wouldn’t be very nice.  How, and in what way, could Montresor be classified as an unreliable narrator? Explain.

A.     Montresor could be called an unreliable narrator because, near the end of the story, he doesn’t seem entirely sane, and his information could be unreliable or false.

 

Q.    What was Montresor trying to accomplish when he kept coming up with excuses for why Fortunado shouldn’t come with him to his vaults?  What does this strategy tell you about Montresor?  What about Fortunado?

A.     Montresor was trying to lure Fortunado down into his vaults, accomplishing this by saying that he came across a very rare and very fine type of wine known as amontillado.  He also said that, since Fortunado was “engaged”, he would ask someone else to come and inspect it.  This shows how tricky and sly he was.  Fortunado, because of his pride, willingly and definitively said that he would personally inspect the so-called “amontillado.”

 

Q.    On page 176, explain what he meant when Fortunado said, “I forget your arms,” to Montresor. How does this coincide with the story?

A.     When Fortunado asked Montresor what his “arms” were, he was referring to a symbol, or coat of arms, that represents the Montresor family.  The Montresor seal depicted a big golden foot against a blue background, with the foot crushing a snake that is rearing up and biting the heel. The motto is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which means “Nobody attacks me without punishment.” The motto, in a way, symbolizes the revenge of Montresor against Fortunado, with the injuries and insults of Fortunado that Montresor heavily carried.

 

Q.    What was the purpose of the trowel that Montresor was carrying? What does it symbolize? What can you conclude about Monresor’s intentions?

A.     Montresor first used the trowel to show Fortunado that he was indeed a Mason and was in the brotherhood. But a trowel is a tool for stonework, so you can also conclude that he might do some digging or stonework later on.

 

Q.    Compare the story “The Cask of Amontillado” to the newspaper article (summary on page 178) about a man being buried alive. Could Poe have gotten his inspiration from this story, or was it another thing that drove him to write this story?

A.     The newspaper article depicted a man being buried alive, in a church with no one around. The writer that found the body supposed that the motive was revenge. He also said that only a noble (like Fortunado or Montresor) could have cleared out the whole building. Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Cask of Amontillado” a year after the writer found the body in the church, so it just may have been what inspired him to write this story.

 

Q.    What can you infer about Montresor’s state of mind when he sat back and stopped building the wall to listen to Fortunado’s screams?

A.     I think at that point, Montresor has ventured into insanity. He seems to like the fact that his enemy, and fellow businessman and wine connoisseur, is dying. This is one of the reasons why he could be considered unreliable.

 

Q.    Take into consideration the time the story was written and what the critics were saying about his work. Could this story be more than just a revenge story? Explain.

A.     This story was written in 1846, and it could represent many different things. It could be to get even with the ruthless critics who always had put down his ideas. Or it could have been to show Poe’s hatred for his father, Allan Poe, who was Scottish, like Montresor, and was also a businessman and Mason, like Fortunado.

 

Q.    Near the end of the story, why do you think Montresor’s heart “grew sick?” Was it really because of the dampness and cold of the catacombs, or was it something more?

A.     I personally think that Montresor’s heart “grew sick” because of the realization that hit him when he saw that Fortunado was actually dead, and that he was a murderer. Even though Montresor hated Fortunado, he couldn’t help but feel pity when he saw that his long-time rival was dead.

 

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