illustration of Fortunato standing in motley behind a mostly completed brick wall with a skull superimposed on the wall where his face should be

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe
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How does Montresor describe Fortunato's actions and attitudes early in the story?

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Initially, Montresor depicts Fortunato as a man who has dealt him "a thousand injuries." He describes Fortunato as boorish and "a quack," or a fraud, in some areas. He also reveals Fortunato's wish to be perceived as a veritable connoisseur.

According to Montresor, Fortunato has injured him many times, but recently...

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Initially, Montresor depicts Fortunato as a man who has dealt him "a thousand injuries." He describes Fortunato as boorish and "a quack," or a fraud, in some areas. He also reveals Fortunato's wish to be perceived as a veritable connoisseur.

According to Montresor, Fortunato has injured him many times, but recently Fortunato has added what Montresor terms "insults" to these purported injuries, causing Montresor to now seek revenge. But, because he does not support his exaggerated claims against Fortunato with real proof, Montresor is an unreliable narrator. For instance, there is no enumeration of "the thousand injuries" supposedly committed against Montresor by Fortunato. Also, Montresor may consider Fortunato boorish simply because of an ethnic bias against Italians. In one instance of this bias, Montresor claims, "few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit." Asserting that Italians feign enthusiasm in the finer things only for the sake of deceiving "British and Austrian millionaires," Montresor, nevertheless, acknowledges that although Fortunato is a "quack" like his countrymen, he has been "sincere" and knowledgeable of the Italian vintages. So, capitalizing on Fortunato's pride in his real ability as a connoisseur, Montresor lures the intoxicated man into the family catacombs on the pretext of tasting the Amontillado. 

Also in the exposition of the story, Montresor depicts Fortunato as somewhat arrogant since he wishes to be recognized by Montresor as superior to Luchesi in his abilities. For when Montresor suggests that Fortunato is too busy to come to his vaults, or when Montresor feigns concern for Fortunato's health, Fortunato insists that he is quite capable of accompanying Montresor. He tells Montresor that "the cold is merely nothing," and he asserts that he is the better judge of the Amontillado: "Luchesi . . . cannot distinguish sherry from Amontillado."

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Montresor describes Fortunato as someone who has injured and insulted him one too many times, and so now Montresor has sworn revenge.  Montresor also says that Fortunato has only one flaw, and though he never names it explicitly, it seems likely that this flaw is pride because it is Fortunato's pride that Montresor exploits in order to lure Fortunato to his vaults so that he can kill him.  However, he also claims that Fortunato, other than this one weak point, is actually a man who many respect and even fear.  He is a true connoisseur of wine, and he takes great pride in his expertise (which Montresor admits is real), though he has no real skill in painting or gemmary.  When Montresor finds Fortunato on the night the story takes place, Fortunato is dressed as a jester and has been celebrating Carnival by drinking heavily. 

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