Does "The Cask of Amontillado" have the elements of short stories, such as protagonist/antagonist, climax, and resolution?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is worth noting that Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most influential figures in American literature.  As such, he has developed the short story genre to a sophisticated form that produces a single effect, while at the same time retaining the essential elements.


While it is confusing to the reader as to who actually is the protagonist and who the antagonist, there are these two character types in "The Cask of Amontillado."  Since the narrative is told from the point of view of Montresor, it is difficult for the reader to ascertain what the reality is.  For instance, what exactly are the "thousand injuries" committed by Fortunato? Or, is he really a victim?  Nevertheless, no matter who is the protagonist, a conflict exists between Montresor and Fortunato, that propels the plot through many arabesques, Poe's twists and turns of dialogue and action, that lead to the conclusion.


The point of highest emotional intensity in Poe's narrative is achieved when Montesor surreptitiously fetters Fortunato to the wall of the catacombs:

A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite.  In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet....He was too much astounded to resist.


Also termed the denouement, or "unknotting," the resolution is the moment in the plot when conflict ends.  However, many modern stories end without a resolution. In Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," Montresor is proud of his revenge and considers it an act of justice.  However, the reader senses that the real horror lies in the terrible capabilities of humans. So, in a sense, the plot does not come to a final resolution.

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The Cask of Amontillado

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