How does Montresor manipulate Fortunato (3 ways), and what character traits make Fortunato easy prey for Montresor?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Montresor claims that Fortunato has one "weak point" and this is that he "prided himself on his connoisseurship of wine."  Pride, in general, does seem to be Fortunato's weak point; he thinks highly of himself, and he seems to feel somewhat entitled -- even his name means fortunate one!   It is this quality of Fortunato's that Montresor can use to manipulate him, and his pride, itself, will actually prevent Fortunato from realizing that he is being manipulated by Montresor. 

One of the ways that Montresor manipulates Fortunato by using the man's pride against him is by being somewhat self-deprecating and then admitting that Fortunato is more qualified than he on the subject of wine.  Concerning the supposed pipe of Amontillado, Montresor says, "'I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter [...]."  He implies that he behaved hastily, without due reflection and consultation, and that he would have been smarter to have gotten Fortunato's opinion before he purchased the wine.  Montresor knows that Fortunato will not be able to resist the opportunity to gloat over Montresor's mistake.

Likewise, as the two men descend into the catacombs, Montresor repeatedly insists that they should turn back for the good of Fortunato's health.  The walls are crusted with nitre (potassium nitrate) which makes it difficult for Fortunato, who is already somewhat ill, to breathe.  But Fortunato seems not to want Montresor to be right about anything, and so he denies, over and over, that he is suffering.  Moreover, Montresor tells Fortunato, "You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was.  You are a man to be missed.  For me it is no matter."  Again, Monstresor speaks slightingly of himself in order to flatter Fortunato's pride, and so Fortunato, proudly, rebuffs Montresor's expressions of concern.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Montresor acts amiably towards Fortunato and goes out of his way to approach him in a friendly manner. Fortunato does not expect that Montresor has ill intentions and feels comfortable enough to follow him into his catacombs to try the rare wine.

2. Montresor manipulates Fortunato's arrogance and pride by suggesting that Luchresi is an expert on wine whom he will consult as to whether the Amontillado he purchased is authentic. Montresor is confident that Fortunato will volunteer to taste the Amontillado, because he prides himself on his connoisseurship of wine.

3. Montresor waits for an opportune time to take advantage of Fortunato. When Montresor initially approaches Fortunato, he is somewhat intoxicated from partying at the festival with the other citizens. As Montresor leads Fortunato through his catacombs, he does not discourage Fortunato from drinking along the way. Fortunato's excessive drinking impairs his ability to reason and makes it easier for Montresor to manipulate him.

Some of Fortunato's character traits that make it easier for Montresor to manipulate him include his arrogance, pride, and overconfidence. Fortunato is a man who is both respected and feared. He reveals his pride the moment he rejects Montresor's idea that Luchresi will be able to distinguish whether his wine is authentic or not. Fortunato also feels confident and safe that Montresor will not harm him while in the catacombs.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First and foremost, Montresor understands just how badly Fortunato loves wine, and he knows that Fortunato will not turn down a chance to sample a rare bottle of the Spanish sherry, Amontillado. Montresor manipulates Fortunato by promising that the bottle is deep within his family's catacombs (which double as a wine cellar), and he lures him to his predesigned burial place with the temptation of a drink. Montresor further manipulates Fortunato by bringing Luchesi into the equation. By suggesting that Fortunato is too ill and inebriated to make the long journey into the catacombs, and assuring him that Luchesi will be willing to test the Amontillado, Montresor knows that Fortunato will not be able to resist continuing. Montresor has also made certain that his servants will be absent from his home, knowing they will head to the carnival once he tells them that he will be gone for the evening. Montesor also sees to it that Fortunato, who is already drunk, will have a few more bottles to drink on the way to his death, further lowering his inhibitions.

Read the study guide:
The Cask of Amontillado

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