Read the story and answer the questions ( medium answers not long but not short )
EDGAR ALLAN POE
Short Story: “The Cask of Amontill ado”
Author: Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–49
First published: 1846
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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, li ke 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 skil ful 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 CASK OF AMONTILLADO 4
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 Amontill ado, and I have
“How?” said he. “Amontill ado? A pipe? Impossible!
And in the middle of the carnival!”
“ I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was sil ly enough
to pay the full Amontil lado price without consulting you in
the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of
losing a bargain.”
“ I have my doubts.”
“And I must satisfy them.”
“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If
any one has a criti cal turn, it is he. He will t ell me——”
“Luchesi cannot tell Amontill ado from Sherry.”
“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match
for your own.”
“Come, let us go.”
“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 affli cted. The vaults are
insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre.”
“Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing.
Amontill ado! You have been imposed upon. And as for
Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontill ado.”
EDGAR ALLAN POE 5
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
There were no attendants at home; they had absconded
to make merry in honor 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
suff icient, 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
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 web-
work which gleams from these cavern walls.”
He turned toward me, and looked into my eyes with two
filmy orbs that distill ed the rheum of intoxication.
“Nitre?” he asked, at length.
“Nitre,” I replied. “How long have you had that
“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
“ 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;
THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 6
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
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 li fe.”
He again took my arm, and we proceeded.
“These vaults,” he said, “are extensive.”
“The Montresors,” I replied, “were a great and
“ 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
“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.
EDGAR ALLAN POE 7
“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 wil l 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 Grâve. He
emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He
laughed and threw the bottle upward 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.”
“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, recoili ng a few paces. “But
let us proceed to the Amontill ado.”
“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 Amontill ado. 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
At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared
another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human
THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 8
remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the
great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt
were stil l 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 i nterior recess, in depth about four feet, in
width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been
constructed for no especial use within 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, upli fting his dull torch,
endeavored to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination
the feeble light did not enable us to see.
“Proceed,” I said; “herein is the Amontill ado. As for
“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 littl e attentions in my
EDGAR ALLAN POE 9
“The Amontill ado!” ejaculated my friend, not yet
recovered from his astonishment.
“True,” I replied; “ the Amontill ado.”
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 the 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 labors
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 clamored. I re-echoed—I aided—I surpassed them
in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamorer grew
THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 10
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 diff iculty in
recognizing 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 Amontill ado!” I said.
“He! he! he!—he! he! he!—yes, the Amontill ado. 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:
No answer. I called again:
No answer still . I thrust a torch through the remaining
aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in reply 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 labor. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered
it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart
of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed
them. In pace requiescat!
MDC West Campus
ENC1102 English Composition 2
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS ON EDGAR ALLAN POE’S “THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO”
1. Who are the main characters in the story?
2. What social class do they belong to?
3. What is the main conflict in the story?
4. What was Fortunato’s weak point?
5. What is the setting of the story? (
Place and time)
6. What was Fortunato wearing? Why does this contribute to the irony in the story?
7. How does Montresor lure Fortunato to come to his palazzo?
8. Who is Luchesi? Why is he mentioned in the story?
9. Why is the conversation about the masons on page 7 relevant?
10. What is the climax of the story?
11. How long has Fortunato being buried at the moment of Montresor’s confession?
12. Who do you think Montresor is telling the story to?
13. Is this a horror story? Explain.
14. What is the theme (main idea) of the story?