Short Story Saturday-“The Cask Of Amontillado”

Welcome back! Today, I’m going to look at another Edgar Allan Poe tale that, for some reason, became quite the Tumblr meme a couple years back, that tale being 1846’s “The Cask Of Amontillado.”

So, we start of with the narrator, a dude named Montresor, talking about how some dude named Forunato offered him some nebulous insult, and he’s going to tell us how he got his revenge.

We then flashback to a festival some time prior, where Montresor rather conveniently bumps into Fortunato. Now, as the narrator mentions, Fortunato has one major weakness: booze, in particular wine, which he fancies himself an expert in. As a side note, Fortunato is already pretty wasted by this point, as well as dressed like a literal clown.

Anyway, Montresor mentions in passing that he just got a pipe of really old amontillado, which is a type of fancy Spanish sherry. However, he has some doubts as to its authenticity, but as Fortunato is currently busy, he’ll go to this other guy named Luchresi and have him check it out. Fortunato responds, “Luchresi don’t know shit,” and insists on accompanying Montresor to his manor.

Once there, Montrestor leads him down into the family catacombs, noting that’s where he’s keeping the amontillado. While down there, Fortunato makes a weird hand gesture that Montresor doesn’t recognize. Fortunato’s like, “Oh, so not a Mason, then?” To which Montresor’s like, “Oh, sure I am,” while subtly grabbing a trowel.

You can probably guess where this is going.

So, Montresor leads him to a room that he says contains the titular cask, but Fortunato is having trouble finding it. Taking advantage of Fortunato’s shit-facedness and confusion, Montresor chains him to a wall and starts bricking up the entrance. All the while, Fortunato’s like, “Yeah, real funny, man, now knock it off and let me out.” Eventually, though, he realizes that this is not a prank, and the following exchange occurs:

“For the love of God, Montresor!

“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God.”

Fortunato stops responding after this, and Montresor slides the last brick in place, plasters over the whole thing, and goes on his merry way. The story then ends with Montresor saying that Fortunato’s been down there for the past fifty years.

So, this is one of my favorite Poe stories. In particular, I found it interesting how the narrator really never goes into the slight that got Fortunato walled up, and actually doesn’t seem to know himself why he did what he did. Whatever it was, the slight was likely to have been exaggerated.

It’s also one of several stories that Poe tells from the perspective of a murderer, and also where someone is buried alive. Poe seemed to like writing about the latter quite a bit, but then again, being buried alive was the hot topic at the time the story was written. Poe was also a really morbid dude, which I may have mentioned before.

I will also admit that I got a bit of a kick out of the “Mason” pun in the story, even if it was kind of darkly comedic.

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