What are some internal and external conflicts in "The Cask of Amontillado"?
The only problem in “The Cask of Amontillado” is to lure Fortunato down into the catacombs where Montresor can leave him entombed. That is what the story is about. Being the last person seen with Fortunato would be Montresor’s biggest concern. Poe deliberately made this problem more complicated by deciding to dress the intended victim in such a way as to attract maximum notice.
He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells.
Everybody would remember seeing Fortunato. He even has bells on his cap which jingle with every step. But by making this boisterous exhibitionist so conspicuous, Poe distracts all attention from his companion. Some revelers will remember that Fortunato had a companion, but no one will be able to identify him. Montresor is wearing a black cloak and a black mask. He is like a shadow of the other man.
This harlequin costume with the bells is a stroke of genius. Poe solves Montresor’s problem by magnifying it. Imagine trying to steer a drunken man through the crowded streets during the big carnival without being recognized by anyone! Montresor is virtually invisible just because Fortunato is so extremely visible.
After all, he is an important, well-known man. How could he be concealed? Even if he were wearing a different costume, one that concealed his body and face completely, some people would still recognize him as Fortunato. The important point is for Montresor not to be recognized as Montresor. He wants to commit his crime with “impunity.”
Fortunato chose the costume himself. He does not think of himself as a fool but as a jester. These court buffoons were noted for playing cruel jokes under the protection of noble patrons. No doubt many of the “thousand injuries” Montresor had suffered were in the form of sadistic jibes. It will give him added satisfaction to chain the jester to the wall in his appropriate costume.
Poe specifies that the motley is “tight-fitting.” This is to show that Fortunato is unarmed. Court jesters did not carry weapons. Montresor, on the other hand, has a rapier concealed under his roquelaire. If he can only get Fortunato down the stairs, then his victim’s fate is sealed. If he can’t entice him all the way to the narrow niche where two short chains are fastened to the rock wall, he might be forced to kill him with his rapier and drag him there.
Montresor’s bizarre antics when they are underground, including claiming to be a Mason and showing Fortunato his trowel, are meant to demonstrate Montresor’s vast relief. The hardest part of his problem is solved. Now there are just the two of them alone underground, and Fortunato will never be seen again.