How did Fortunato insult Montresor in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The insult most likely has to do with something about Montresor's family. When Montresor is in the catacombs with Fortuanto, Fortunato takes several unconscious digs at Montresor's family. At one point he says, "Oh, I forgot, the Montresors were once a great and noble family." In other words, Montresor's family is not as noble as it once was. Then, Fortunato makes the sign of the masons, an exclusive club of prominent men of the time. Then he says, "Oh, you are not of the masons?"---an obvious dig a Montresor's prestige. Montresor quickly pulls out a trowel, a tool of the common mason, or bricklayer, and says, sarcastically, "Yes. Yes, I am a mason." Of course, this is a reference to Montresor's plan to bury Fortunato alive. Poor Fortunato is totally obvious to this plan because he is so proud and also drunk.
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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The insult is never named, or rather the "thousand injuries" were never named by Fortunato. We know that Montresor is an unreliable narrator because he never names the insults and his account of the entire story is so one-sided he cannot be entirely believed. Montresor tells the reader that he's tried to hide his true feelings of animosity from Fortunato when he says, "neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued . . . to smile in his face and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation."

We do know, however, that Fortunato thinks of Montresor as a friend and has no idea the way that Montresor feels about him. We know this because Fortunato goes freely with Montresor to the catacombs beneath Montresor's estate to taste the rare amontillado. If Fortunato thought them enemies he would never have gone with him in the first place.

There was a movie made based on the Poe story in 1972 which is narrated by Vincent Price and in that version of the story the "thousand injuries" amounted to Fortunato having an affair with Montresor's beautiful wife. Ultimately the purpose of the story has little to do with the injuries and more to do with the suspense, the horror of burying a man alive behind a brick wall, the "perfect" murder.

khein1478's profile pic

khein1478 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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I hate to disagree with the above answers, but upon a very close reading the insult is really kind of obvious. Of course, you need to know a little bit about history to truly get it.

In the story, Fortunato outs himself as being a Mason (Freemason), which began as a secret society composed of wealthy elites who were against two things: royalty and the papacy (the Catholic church). It is also clear that Montressor is "not of the Masons" (Fortunato), which leads to the basic assumption that if he is a wealthy elite who is not a Mason, he is most likely a Catholic. This idea is reinforced by other aspects of the story as well. However, the insult is found at the end of the story when Fortunato pleads with Montressor saying, "For the love of God" as in 'come on,' and Montressor seriously replies, "Yes, for the love of God." He kills him in the name of his religion, like millions of other instances throughout history.

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