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What steps does Montresor take to ensure his plan works in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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shiimarie07 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 31, 2013 at 1:12 PM via iOS

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What steps does Montresor take to ensure his plan works in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 31, 2013 at 1:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Montresor plots his revenge upon Fortunato carefully, as he tells the reader in the story. He must "not only punish but punish with impunity;" yet Montresor also recognizes that his satisfaction will be complete only if the murder is undetected and he remains free of incarceration. First, Montresor chooses "the supreme madness of the carnival season" as the backdrop for his plan. He gives no clue to Fortunato that there is even a problem between the two men: Though Montresor claims Fortunato to be his sworn enemy, Fortunato does not seem aware of this, and Montresor continues to "smile in his face" whenever the two men meet. He eliminates the possibility of his own servants as possible witnesses by deliberately lying to them:

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 sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

Montresor knows that Fortunato will have "been drinking much," and in his inebriated state Fortunato will not suspect the plotting against him. Montresor chooses Fortunato's final resting place wisely, leading him deep into the family catacombs which also act as a wine cellar. Most importantly, Montresor knows that Fortunato will not be able to turn down his invitation to sample a rare bottle of Amontillado:

He had a weak point—this Fortunato... He prided himself on his connoisseur-ship in wine.

Once into the catacombs, the nitre on the walls interferes with Fortunato's breathing, and Montresor continues to ply his enemy with more wine. By the time they reach "the remote end of the crypt," Fortunato is drunk and confused, and Montresor quickly enacts his plan. Montresor has already visited the spot, fettering chains to the granite surface. He has mortar ready and carries a trowel. The screams emitted by Fortunato are too far away for anyone to hear. Since no living humans ever set foot in this remote niche, Montresor knows that it is likely that "no mortal" will ever discover Fortunato's remains.

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