The Cask of Amontillado Summary

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

     This story by Edgar Allan Poe takes place in Italy. It is written from the first-person perspective of a man belonging to the Montresor family who is seeking revenge on his former friend, Fortunato. The reader never finds out exactly what Fortunato has done to warrant this revenge, but the narrator does say that he had borne a "thousand injuries" from him and that he was once happy like Fortunato. The narrator explains that both he and Fortunato are connoisseurs of wine. He runs into Fortunato one night after Fortunato had been drinking at the carnival. Fortunato is dressed as a jester while the narrator wears a long black cloak. The narrator tells Fortunato that he found a men who sold him what he believes is a pipe of Amontillado, an expensive Spanish wine. He thinks he may have been swindled, and he wants a wine expert to taste it to verify that it is indeed Amontillado. However, he knows Fortunato is busy, and he doesn't want to bother him. The narrator mentions that he might ask Luchesi to taste the wine for him, but Fortunato insists that he should do it himself, and Luchesi is an idiot. The narrator is reluctant because he notices that Fortunato has a cold, and he's worried about him going into his dark, damp cellar. Fortunato insists that his cough is nothing; he wants to taste the Amontillado, which the narrator knew he would. They happily head toward the narrator's home.

     The narrator had told his servants that he wouldn't be home all evening, so they shouldn't leave, which he knew would ensure their immediate departure; therefore, he has the house entirely to himself. As they walk down into the cellar, the narrator points out the nitre on the walls, which is a salt-like substance on the walls that makes it difficult to breathe. It causes Fortunato to have a coughing fit, but once again he assures the narrator that he is fine, so the narrator grabs a bottle of wine off the wall and offers Fortunato a drink. Fortunato notices there are many vaults in the cellar, and the narrator replies that the Montresors were a large family, indicating that his dead relatives have been buried in these vaults. Fortunato asks about his family crest, and the narrator explains that it contains a picture of a foot stepping on a snake that is trying to bite it with the motto "No one provokes me with impunity" written in Latin.

     Once again the narrator asks Fortunato if he'd like to turn back, showing false concern for his health, but once again Fortunato demands that they continue on, so the narrator has him drink more wine. Fortunato then makes a strange hand gesture, which the narrator does not understand. Fortunato asks the narrator if he is a mason, referring to the secret society of freemasons, and the narrator responds that he is. When Fortunato asks for proof, the narrator pulls a trowel out from under his cloak, which is another kind of mason, or bricklayer. Fortunato does not understand why the narrator would be carrying a trowel around with him, but he thinks he's kidding and doesn't say more.

     Finally, they arrived at a small indentation in the crypt, a recess about the size of a small closet where the narrator tells Fortunato he will find the Amontillado and asks him to go inside. It is incredibly dark, and they are both holding small torches, so they cannot see much. When Fortunato steps into the three-walled area, expecting to find the Amontillado, the narrator takes advantage of his drunken stupor to grab a chain attached to one side of the wall, wrap it around Fortunato's waist, and lock it to a staple protruding from the opposite wall. Fortunato is trapped and doesn't know why. The narrator points out the heavy layer of niter on the wall then pronounces that it's time for him to leave. Fortunato is still wondering what happened to the Amontillado. The narrator then moves a pile of bones aside to reveal a pile of bricks and some mortar. Using his trowel, he begins to wall up the entrance to the niche, sealing Fortunato inside.

     After he built several layers, the narrator hears Fortunato pulling on the chains, so he sits down to better enjoy listening to him struggle. Once Fortunato stops, the narrator resumes his work. Then Fortunato starts screaming, so the narrator screams back even louder, which makes him quiet down. Finally, the narrator has one brick left to put in when he hears a husky laugh emerge from within. Fortunato thinks that the narrator is joking. He tells him that they can all have a good laugh when they meet up with Fortunato's wife at the Palazzo. Then he asks him to stop for the love of God, and the narrator replies that he will finish for the love of god. He waited for Fortunato to reply, tossed in his torch, and was finally answered with a soft jangling of bells from Fortunato's cap before sealing up the last brick. He pushed a pile of bones in front of the new wall where they remained untouched for over fifty years. May he rest in peace.

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