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What is meant by "the pipe" in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado?"

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amirahjasmin | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted September 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM via web

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What is meant by "the pipe" in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado?"

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 11, 2012 at 4:10 PM (Answer #1)

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The answer to this question is a simple one. A "pipe," also known as a "butt," was an old unit of measurement, used to describe the size of a large wine cask. A pipe contained just under 500 liters, or 125 US gallons, a substantial amount of wine. So when Montresor claims that he has purchased a "pipe" of Amontillado, he has made a significant purchase. It is thus plausible that he might want to get a wine expert to verify its authenticity, and he is able to play on Fortunato's vanity by asking him to sample it. This, of course, is how he lures the doomed man into his cellar. In fact, Fortunato's only doubt is that Montresor could have obtained such a large quantity of wine:

“How?” said he. “Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

Montresor bolsters his ruse by agreeing with Fortunato, suggesting that, on second thought, he too wonders whether his purchase was not too good to be true.

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