What does Fortunato’s name mean in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In the short story "Cast of Amontillado" Fortunato is the character that is taken down into the wine cellar and sealed up in the stone wall to die.  This name is a very clever play on a name and creates irony in the story because the name Fortunato is "Italian, Spanish and Portuguese form of the Late Latin name Fortunatus meaning "fortunate, blessed, happy". This was the name of several early saints and martyrs."  How ironic that Fortuanto is the character that dies.

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poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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"Fortunato" is an Italian derivation of the Roman proper name "Fortunatus." It refers to a Latin adjective which means "blest" or "fortunate." It is referenced in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 16:17, in which Fortunatus is one of the Seventy Disciples and serves as an ambassador to the Corinthian church. St. Paul writes in this verse:

I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.

"Fortunatus," thus, went on to become relatively popular in the Catholic tradition, with many saints, martyrs, and clergymen taking up the name. This--as the other educators have pointed out--is deeply ironic given Fortunato's indulgent behavior throughout the story. Fortunato does not appear to possess the graces and qualities of a man of faith; rather, he seems to gratify his every whim and desire, no matter how base or low--drinking, gossiping, cavorting, and partying his way through life. The way in which he dies--being paved behind a wall while drunk--is hardly beatific or holy. He does not perish as a martyr, but rather as a fool.

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gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The name Fortunato is a continuation of the Late Latin personal name Fortunatus which derives from the Latin verb fortunatus meaning prosperous, lucky, and happy. As was mentioned in the previous post, several Catholic saints and martyrs were named Fortunato. Ironically, the character Fortunato in the short story "The Cask of Amontillado" does not act like a saint or martyr, and is not lucky at all. Fortunato is an insincere alcoholic who gossips about Montresor continually. Montresor gets his revenge on Fortunato by leading him through his family's catacombs to try the very rare Amontillado wine. Fortunato is deceived into believing that Montesor has good intentions, when in fact, Montresor wishes to murder Fortunato by burying him alive. Poe cleverly gives a name which means "lucky" to a very "unlucky" person.


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