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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What pattern of influence and manipulation does Montresor employ to lure Fortunato to his death? Comment on the use of Gothic death symbols in their brief relationship.

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The means of influence and manipulation used by Montresor to lure Fortunato to his death included his basic planning of the time to carry out his scheme--the time of Mardi Gras--a time of revelry in which many people would be about, costumed, and drink would be flowing freely.  He planned for his servants to be away so that he could lure Fortunato back without fear of interruption, and Fortunato, due to the celebration, was nicely inebriated and easy to coerce, due to his pride in his connoisseurship of wine, with the promise of a cask of Amontillado into Montresor's catacombs.  All of these plans and manipulations worked together to flawlessly accomplish Montresor's well-laid plan.

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Gothic literature confronted the established social norms and presented the darker side of the human condition, it challenged the established social and intellectual norms.

Poe uses several established gothic symbols in Montresor's brief encounter with Fortunato that leads to Fortunato's death. Montresor is the "madman" who is seeking revenge on Fortunato, although he never tells us what Fortunato has done that deserves his death. The carnival that helps hide Montresor's actions and Fortunato's cries can linked to the Gothic idea of dreams and the surreal, reality is suspended and allows for actions to occur that otherwise would not be possible. Fortunato's pride, which Montresor plays on to lure him to his home, is what causes his fall and allows him to be led to his own confinement in the wall of the catacomb and destruction. Montresor's home, and particularly the catacombs that he leads Forunato to are symbolic of the hidden depths of Montresor's mind. The ideas of justice and injustice are blurred by the perverse nature of Montresor's punishment and the fact that as readers we are unable to judge for ourselves the extent of the wrong that Fortunato has allegedly done to Montresor.

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