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
Start Free Trial

What happened before the story in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

We don't get many specifics, but we do get some hints about what happened before the story of revenge unfolds. We learn, for example, that Montresor and Fortunato have known each other for a number of years because Montresor tells us he has waited before enacting his revenge. He says...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

We don't get many specifics, but we do get some hints about what happened before the story of revenge unfolds. We learn, for example, that Montresor and Fortunato have known each other for a number of years because Montresor tells us he has waited before enacting his revenge. He says that "at length" (meaning, at some point in time) he would be avenged for his wrongs: he was willing to wait for the right moment and the perfect plan.

We also know that Fortunato has "injured" Montresor many times, though we don't know precisely how. We also learn that Fortunato has managed to insult Montresor, which Montresor finds the unforgivable sin.

Other details we know is that both men are interested in good wines, and that Fortunato considers himself a wine expert. Montresor uses Fortunato's fascination with good wines to lure him into the catacombs. The men must have a history together of either enjoying wine or somehow being involved in the wine trade. Montresor says of himself:

I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

Because of their shared past, Fortunato, though surprised, believes Montresor when he says he has an amontillado, a fine sherry.

We know that Montresor continues to be friendly to Fortunato for a long time, even though he inwardly is seething with rage at him. The two also appear to come from a wealthy social class, as they can afford fine wines. Montresor has servants and seems to live in a large house. In short, we can imagine them having a past of belonging to the same social set, sharing a love of wines, and seeming to be friends, except that Fortunato has insulted Montresor in a way Montresor finds unbearable.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team