“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe (1835) Read by Peter Thomas?
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 skillful 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."
THE TEXT ENDS HERE DUE TO SPACE LIMITS
1. gemmary: the science of gems.
2. Amontillado: a medium dry sherry (an alcoholic drink--you’ve never tasted it).
3. roquelaire: knee-length cloak.
4. Nemo me impune lacessit: No one "cuts" (attacks) me with impunity.
5. flambeaux: flaming torch.
6. In pace requiescat: Rest in peace.
1) What hints does the story provide as to the "thousand injuries" that Fortunato has inflicted on Montresor? Do they serve to establish a specific motive for Montresor's revenge?
2) How does the contrasting setting (the catacombs versus the carnival) affect the tone of the story?
3) Why does the narrator's heart grow sick at the end of the story? What is the meaning of Montresor's own scream?
4) How does this story create suspense?
Montresor may not be the real name of the narrator.
We see in the story he is skilled at lying. Indeed, he may not be sinister, cold, and ruthless since everything said may be complete fiction from a skilled liar.
Suppose it happened. He’s telling the story fifty years after the murder. A young man's evil deed is recalled by an old man.
I view Montresor as an unreliable narrator. If he’s capable of plastering Fortunato into a vault, we can’t trust him. If he’s lying about the murder (maybe he didn’t kill Fortunato), then we can’t trust him.
Is there a "Montresor" inside all of us in that we all have vengeful urges?
Is he telling the story as a confession--or is he bragging? Does he now feel bad about it--or is he proud of his evil act?
The expression "a skeleton in the closet" means something shameful in our past that we hope to keep hidden. This narrator literally has a skeleton in his closet?