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The Cask of Amontillado

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The Cask of Amontillado

Illustration of "The Cask of Amontillado" by Harry Clarke, 1919. Author Country Language Genre(s) Publisher Publication date Media type Edgar Allan Poe United States English Horror short story Godey's Lady's Book November 1846 Print (Magazine)

"The Cask of Amontillado" (sometimes spelled "The Casque of Amontillado") is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey's Lady's Book. The story is set in a nameless Italian city in an unspecified year (possibly in the 18th century) and is about narrator's deadly revenge on a friend who he believes has insulted him. Like several of Poe's stories, and in keeping with the 19th-century fascination with the subject, the narrative revolves around a person being buried alivein this case, by immurement. As in "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart", Poe conveys the story through the murderer's perspective.

Contents
[hide]

1 Plot summary 2 Publication history 3 Analysis 4 Inspiration 5 References 6 External links

[edit] Plot summary


Montresor tells the story of the day that he took his revenge on Fortunato, a fellow nobleman. Angry over some unspecified insult, he plots to murder his friend during Carnival when the man is drunk, dizzy, and wearing a jester's motley. He baits Fortunato by telling him he has obtained what he believes to be a pipe (about 130 gallons,[1] 492 litres) of Amontillado, a rare and valuable sherry wine. He claims he wants his friend's expert opinion on the subject. Fortunato goes with Montresor to the wine cellars of the latter's palazzo, where they wander in the catacombs. Montresor offers wine (first Medoc, then De Grave) to Fortunato; at one point, Fortunato makes an elaborate, grotesque gesture with an upraised wine bottle. When Montresor appears not to recognize the gesture, Fortunato asks, "You are not of the masons?" Montresor says he is, and when Fortunato, disbelieving, requests a sign, Montresor displays a trowel he had been hiding. Montresor warns Fortunato, who has a bad cough, of the damp, and suggests they go back; Fortunato insists on continuing, claiming that "[he] shall not die of a cough." During their walk, Montresor mentions his family coat of arms: a foot in a blue background crushing a snake whose fangs are embedded in the foot's heel, with the motto Nemo me impune lacessit ("No one insults me with impunity"). When they come to a niche, Montresor tells

his victim that the Amontillado is within. Fortunato enters and, drunk and unsuspecting, does not resist as Montresor quickly chains him to the wall. Montresor then declares that, since Fortunato won't go back, he must "positively leave [him]". Montresor walls up the niche, entombing his friend alive. At first, Fortunato, who sobers up faster than Montresor anticipated he would, shakes the chains, trying to escape. Fortunato then screams for help, but Montresor mocks his cries, knowing nobody can hear them. Fortunato laughs weakly and tries to pretend that he is the subject of a joke and that people will be waiting for him (including the Lady Fortunato). As the murderer finishes the topmost row of stones, Fortunato wails, "For the love of God, Montresor!" Montresor replies, "Yes, for the love of God!" He listens for a reply but hears only the jester's bells ringing. Before placing the last stone, he drops a burning torch through the gap. He claims that he feels sick at heart, but dismisses this reaction as an effect of the dampness of the catacombs. In the last few sentences, Montresor reveals that it has been 50 years since that night, he has never been caught, and Fortunato's body still hangs from its chains in the niche where he left it. The murderer, seemingly unrepentant, ends the story by remarking: In pace requiescat! ("May he rest in peace!").

[edit] Publication history


"The Cask of Amontillado" was first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey's Lady's Book[2] which was, at the time, the most popular periodical in America.[3] The story was only published one additional time during Poe's life.[4]

[edit] Analysis
Although the subject matter of Poe's story is a murder, "The Cask of Amontillado" is not a tale of detection like "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" or "The Purloined Letter"; there is no investigation of Montresor's crime and the criminal himself explains how he committed the murder. The mystery in "The Cask of Amontillado" is in Montresor's motive for murder. Without a detective in the story, it is up to the reader to solve the mystery.[5] Montresor never specifies his motive beyond than the vague "thousand injuries" to which he refers. Many commentators conclude that, lacking significant reason, Montresor must be insane, though even this is questionable because of the intricate details of the plot.[5] Though Fortunato is presented as a connoisseur of fine wine, his actions in the story make it questionable. For example, he comments on another nobleman being unable to distinguish Amontillado from Sherry when Amontillado is in fact a type of Sherry to begin with and treats De Grave, an expensive French wine, with very little regard by drinking it in a single gulp.[1]

Poe may have known bricklaying through personal experience. Many periods in Poe's life lack significant biographical details, including what he did after leaving the Southern Literary Messenger in 1837.[6] Poe biographer John H. Ingram wrote to Sarah Helen Whitman that someone named "Allen" said that Poe worked "in the brickyard 'late in the fall of 1834'". This source has been identified as Robert T. P. Allen, a fellow West Point student during Poe's time there.[7]

[edit] Inspiration
An apocryphal legend holds that the inspiration for "The Cask of Amontillado" came from a story Poe had heard at Castle Island (South Boston), Massachusetts, when he was a private there in 1827.[8] According to this legend, while stationed at Castle Island in 1827 he saw a monument to Lieutenant Robert Massie. Massie had been killed in a sword duel on Christmas Day 1817 by Lieutenant Gustavus Drane, following a dispute during a card game.[9] According to the legend, other soldiers then took revenge on Drane by getting him drunk, luring him into the dungeon, chaining him to a wall, and sealing him in a vault.[10] (though the last part is untrue, as Drane was courtmartialled and acquitted,[11] living until 1846[12]). A report of a skeleton discovered on the island may be a confused remembering of Poe's major source, Joel Headley's "A Man Built in a Wall" (1844), which recounts the author's seeing an immured skeleton in the wall of a church in Italy.[13] Headley's story includes details very similar to "The Cask of Amontillado"; in addition to walling an enemy into a hidden niche, the story details the careful placement of the bricks, the motive of revenge, and the victim's agonized moaning. Poe may have also seen similar themes in Honor de Balzac's "Le Grande Bretche" (Democratic Review, November 1843) or his friend George Lippard's The Quaker City; or The Monks of Monk Hall (1845).[14] Poe may have borrowed Montresor's family motto Nemo me impune lacessit from James Fenimore Cooper, who used the line in The Last of the Mohicans (1826).[15]

Thomas Dunn English Poe wrote his tale, however, as a response to his personal rival Thomas Dunn English. Poe and English had several confrontations, usually revolving around literary caricatures of one another. Poe thought that one of English's writings went a bit too far, and successfully sued

the other man's editors at The New York Mirror for libel in 1846.[16] That year English published a revenge-based novel called 1844, or, The Power of the S.F. Its plot was convoluted and difficult to follow, but made references to secret societies and ultimately had a main theme of revenge. It included a character named Marmaduke Hammerhead, the famous author of "The Black Crow", who uses phrases like "Nevermore" and "lost Lenore", referring to Poe's poem "The Raven". This parody of Poe was depicted as a drunkard, liar, and an abusive lover. Poe responded with "The Cask of Amontillado", using very specific references to English's novel. In Poe's story, for example, Fortunato makes reference to the secret society of Masons, similar to the secret society in 1844, and even makes a gesture similar to one portrayed in 1844 (it was a signal of distress). English had also used an image of a token with a hawk grasping a snake in its claws, similar to Montresor's coat of arms bearing a foot stomping on a snake though in this image, the snake is biting the heel. In fact, much of the scene of "The Cask of Amontillado" comes from a scene in 1844 that takes place in a subterranean vault. In the end, then, it is Poe who "punishes with impunity" by not taking credit for his own literary revenge and by crafting a concise tale (as opposed to a novel) with a singular effect, as he had suggested in his essay "The Philosophy of Composition".
[17]

Poe may have also been inspired, at least in part, by the Washingtonian movement, a fellowship that promoted temperance. The group was made up of reformed drinkers who tried to scare people into abstaining from alcohol. Poe may have made a promise to join the movement in 1843 after a bout of drinking with the hopes of gaining a political appointment. "The Cask of Amontillado" then may be a "dark temperance tale", meant to shock people into realizing the dangers of drinking.[18] Poe scholar Richard P. Benton has stated his belief that "Poe's protagonist is an Englished version of the French Montrsor" and has argued forcefully that Poe's model for Montresor "was Claude de Bourdeille, Count of Montrsor, the 17th-century political conspirator in the entourage of King Louis XIII's weak-willed brother, Gaston d'Orlans".[19] The "noted intriguer and memoir-writer" was first linked to "The Cask of Amontillado" by Poe scholar Burton R. Pollin.[19][20]

[edit] References
1.
p. 41. ^ a b Cecil, L. Moffitt. "Poe's Wine List", from Poe Studies, Vol. V, no. 2. December 1972. ^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. Checkmark Books, 2001. ISBN 081604161X p.

2.
45

3.

^ Reynolds, David F. "Poe's Art of Transformation: 'The Cask of Amontillado' in Its Cultural Context", as collected in The American Novel: New Essays on Poe's Major Tales, Kenneth Silverman, ed. Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0521422433 p. 101 4. ^ Edgar Allan Poe "The Cask of Amontillado" at the Edgar Allan Poe Society online 5. ^ a b Baraban, Elena V. "The Motive for Murder in 'The Cask of Amontillado' by Edgar Allan Poe", Rocky Mountain E-Review of Language and Literature. Volume 58, Number 2. Fall 2004.

6.

^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 129130. ISBN 0-06-092331-8 7. ^ Thomas, Dwight & David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 18091849. New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 141. ISBN0-7838-1401-1. 8. ^ Bergen, Philip. Old Boston in Early Photographs. Boston: Bostonian Society, 1990. p. 106 9. ^ Vrabel, Jim. When in Boston: a time line & almanac. Northeastern University, 2004. ISBN 1-55553-620-4 / ISBN 1-15553-621-2 p. 105 10. ^ Wilson, Susan. Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 37. ISBN 0-618-05013-2 11. ^ Vrabel, p. 105 12. ^ Battery B, 4th U.S. Light Artillery - First Lieutenants of the 4th U.S. Artillery 13. ^ Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, editor. Tales and Sketches: Volume II. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2000. p. 1254 14. ^ Reynolds, David F. "Poe's Art of Transformation: 'The Cask of Amontillado' in Its Cultural Context", as collected in The American Novel: New Essays on Poe's Major Tales, Kenneth Silverman, ed. Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0521422433 pp. 945 15. ^ Jacobs, Edward Craney. "Marginalia A Possible Debt to Cooper", collected in Poe Studies, vol. VIII, no. 1. June 1976. 16. ^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 312313. ISBN 0-06-092331-8 17. ^ Rust, Richard D. "Punish with Impunity: Poe, Thomas Dunn English and 'The Cask of Amontillado'" in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Vol. II, Issue 2 Fall, 2001, St. Joseph's University. 18. ^ Reynolds, David F. "Poe's Art of Transformation: 'The Cask of Amontillado' in Its Cultural Context", as collected in The American Novel: New Essays on Poe's Major Tales, Kenneth Silverman, ed. Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0521422433 pp. 967 19. ^ a b Benton, Richard P. (June 1996). "Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado': Its Cultural and Historical Backgrounds". Poe Studies 29: 1927. 20. ^ Burton R. Pollin (1970). "Notre-Dame de Paris in Two of the Tales". Discoveries in Poe. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 2437.

[edit] External links


Wikisource has original text related to this article: The Cask of Amontillado

"The Cask of Amontillado" Full text of the first printing, from Godey's Lady's Book, 1846 The Cask of Amontillado at American Literature Full text on PoeStories.com with hyperlinked vocabulary words. Free-to-download MP3 dramatisation of the story (Yuri Rasovsky) LibriVox recording [show]v d eWorks of Edgar Allan Poe [show] Poems [show] Tales

[show] Other works Maelzel's Chess Player (1836) The Daguerreotype (1840) The Philosophy of Furniture (1840) A Few Words on Secret Writing (1841) The Rationale of Verse Essays(1843) Morning on the Wissahiccon (1844) Old English Poetry (1845) The Philosophy of Composition (1846) The Poetic Principle (1846) Eureka: A Prose Poem (1848) HoaxThe Balloon-Hoax (1844) Novels The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1837) The Journal of Julius Rodman (1840)

PlayPolitian (1835) OtherThe Conchologist's First Book (1839) The Light-House (1849)

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cask_of_Amontillado" Categories: 1846 short stories | Short stories by Edgar Allan Poe | Horror short stories | Works originally published in Godey's Lady's Book
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The Cask of Amontillado Edgar Allan Poe

THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile NOW was at the thought of his immolation. 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 practise 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 skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could. It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him, that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand. I said to him -- "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day! But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts." "How?" said he, "Amontillado? A pipe? Impossible ? And in the middle of the carnival?" "I have my doubts," I replied; "and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain." "Amontillado!" "I have my doubts." "Amontillado!" "And I must satisfy them." "Amontillado!" "As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn, it is he. He will tell me" -"Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."

"And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own." "Come let us go." "Whither?" "To your vaults." "My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement Luchesi" -"I have no engagement; come." "My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted . The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre." "Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You have been imposed upon; and as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado." Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm. Putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo. There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance , one and all, as soon as my back was turned. I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors. The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode. "The pipe," said he. "It is farther on," said I; "but observe the white webwork which gleams from these cavern walls." He turned towards me and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication .

"Nitre?" he asked, at length "Nitre," I replied. "How long have you had that cough!" "Ugh! ugh! ugh! -- ugh! ugh! ugh! -- ugh! ugh! ugh! -- ugh! ugh! ugh! -- ugh! ugh! ugh! My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes. "It is nothing," he said, at last. "Come," I said, with decision, we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi" -"Enough," he said; "the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough." "True -- true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily -- but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps." Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould. "Drink," I said, presenting him the wine. He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled. "I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us." "And I to your long life." He again took my arm and we proceeded. "These vaults," he said, are extensive." "The Montresors," I replied, "were a great numerous family." "I forget your arms." "A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel."

"And the motto?" "Nemo me impune lacessit." "Good!" he said. The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had passed through walls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunato by an arm above the elbow. "The nitre!" I said: see it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough" -"It is nothing" he said; "let us go on. But first, another draught of the Medoc." I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand. I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement -- a grotesque one. "You do not comprehend?" he said. "Not I," I replied. "Then you are not of the brotherhood." "How?" "You are not of the masons." "Yes, yes," I said "yes! yes." "You? Impossible! A mason?" "A mason," I replied. "A sign," he said. "It is this," I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my roquelaire. "You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado."

"Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak, and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame. At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains piled to the vault overhead , in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use in itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite. It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to pry into the depths of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see. "Proceed," I said; "herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchesi" -"He is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered . A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain. from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist . Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess. "Pass your hand," I said, "over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed it is VERY damp. Once more let me IMPLORE you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power." "The Amontillado!" ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment. "True," I replied; "the Amontillado." As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.

I had scarcely laid the first tier of my masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was NOT the cry of a drunken man. There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided , I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within. A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated -- I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs , and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall. I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I reechoed -- I aided -- I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still. It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth, and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in its destined position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognising as that of the noble Fortunato. The voice said -"Ha! ha! ha! -- he! he! -- a very good joke indeed -- an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo -- he! he! he! -- over our wine -he! he! he!" "The Amontillado!" I said. "He! he! he! -- he! he! he! -- yes, the Amontillado . But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone." "Yes," I said "let us be gone." "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MONTRESOR!" "Yes," I said, "for the love of God!" But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud --

"Fortunato!" No answer. I called again -"Fortunato!" No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick -- on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I reerected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat! The Online Literature Library is sponsored by Knowledge Matters Ltd. Last updated