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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In "The Cask of Amontillado," what can the reader infer about Montresor’s social position and character from hints in the text? What evidence does the story provide that Montresor is an unreliable narrator?

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," the reader can infer from the text that Montresor is a nobleman whose character is that of someone prone to slights, both real and imagined.

We know that Montresor is a nobleman because he leads the hapless Fortunato down to the catacombs of...

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," the reader can infer from the text that Montresor is a nobleman whose character is that of someone prone to slights, both real and imagined.

We know that Montresor is a nobleman because he leads the hapless Fortunato down to the catacombs of the Montresors. Only the noblest families would be buried like this, and so this is a big clue as to Montresor's social position.

As to his character, we can infer straight away that Montresor is a proud man prone to take offense. He tells us in the very first line of the story that he's borne as best he could a “thousand injuries” of Fortunato. But when it comes to insults, it's a different matter. Montresor doesn't specify exactly what Fortunato is supposed to have said or done, but whatever it was, it's driven him to exact a terrible revenge upon him.

What makes Montresor an unreliable narrator is his untrustworthiness. This is, after all, a man who tricked Fortunato into going down into the catacombs with him. Perhaps, in telling his story, he's trying to play a trick on us too.

But even if Montresor is telling the truth about what happened, then we still can't completely trust someone capable of carrying out such a heinous act of murder. If Montresor really did do what he said he did, then it still may be the case that he's not telling the truth about his motivation for killing Fortunato. Maybe Fortunato was the wronged party and not Montresor.

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