What is the plot in The Cask of Amontillado?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The events that make up Poe's story are rooted in anger and revenge. Montresor is an Italian aristocrat.  As is reflective of someone in such high standing, Montresor makes it clear to the reader that his pride is not to be challenged.  When it becomes clear that Fortunato had insulted him one too many times, Montresor vows revenge:  "You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled."  From this point, the plot advances to how Montresor will have his revenge, a lesson taught that will "punish" and simultaneously "overtake its redressor."  After some rumination, Montresor recognizes that Fortunato's weakness is a penchant for wine.  Using Fortunato's "connoisseurship" against him, Montresor draws upon his own extensive knowledge of Italian wines to find old wines that he could serve to Fortunato.  Montresor's plan is to get Fortunato drunk so that he can inflict his revenge on him without much in way of resistance.

The plot advances to when the two men meet up.  It becomes evident that Fortunado has already been drinking.  Sensing his inebriation, Montresor tells him that he has purchased a pipe of Amontillado wine, but would like it authenticated.  Montresor tells Fortunato that he was looking for him to validate it, but since he was not around, he has gone to Luchesi.  Sensing a challenge to his connoisseurship, Fortunato demands to be taken to assess the product for himself.  Fortunato was not very fortunate because he ends up walking into Montresor's plan for revenge:  "Fortunato possessed himself of my arm. Putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo."

The servants gone, Montresor takes Fortunato to the basement of the castle, presumably to show him the wine.  As they go through the basement, filled with cobwebs and skeletons, they move farther away from any sign of external intervention.  This enables Montresor to be able to take his revenge with no one interfering on Fortunato's behalf. They come to a point where they stop walking, and Fortunato, still a bit inebriated, is not able to comprehend what is taking place.  Unfortunately for him, Montresor does:

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, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain. from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist . Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess.

With this, Montresor begins to wall in Fortunato.  Using bricks and mortar, he begins to wall him inside, thereby burying him alive:

I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche....I had scarcely laid the first tier of my masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess... When at last the clanking subsided , I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within.

Fortunato thinks it's a joke at the end, as he claims that both of them will be able to "laugh" about this when it's all over.  Montresor has his revenge, as Fortunato can only wither away, walled up.  The ending is Montresor saying "In pace requiescat!" or "Rest in Peace."

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Montresor is the narrator. He begins his tale with a brief and vague exposition about how Fortunato has hurt and/or offended him in many ways. Then, still vague, Montresor indicates that Fortunato's recent insult was the last straw. Montresor never goes into detail about these "thousand injuries" nor the circumstances of this most recent insult. Montresor simply claims that he intends to have revenge. "I must not only punish, but punish with impunity." 

Montresor knows Fortunato has a weakness which is his pride in being a connoisseur of wines. He tells Fortunato that he has an Amontillado but is unsure whether it is genuine or not. Montresor adds that he is going to his friend Luchesi so that he might confirm the Amontillado. Fortunato, in his pride, says Luchesi "cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry." So, as part of his strategy, Montresor agrees to let Fortunato be his taste tester. Montresor effectively lures Fortunato into his vaults and down into the catacombs. Fortunato begins to cough, Montresor implores that they turn back, but this just makes Fortunato more determined to reach the Amontillado. 

Montresor continues to lead on, giving Fortunato alcohol to drink on the way. By the time they reach the Amontillado, Montresor chains him to the rocks and barricades him in. After he ceases to hear Fortnato's cries, Montresor adds: 

My heart grew sick—on account of the dampness of the catacombs. 

It seems that Montresor feels no remorse and being so vague about his motives, the reader wonders about his mental state. On the other hand, Montresor does end the story with a "rest in peace" sentiment. And the fact that he is confessing this deed fifty years after it happened might indicate guilt, remorse, and/or contrition. 

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summerdayz's profile pic

summerdayz | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

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More simply put, the plot revolves entirely around a man's thirst for revenge on his acquaintance, who seems to have joked around and poked fun at him more than he should have. The man plots to kill the acquaintance by getting him drunk then luring him into the catacombs, which were a maze-like structure underground where the family's dead were buried. He then traps the acquaintance down there. This has all been thought out so well that noone even notices, considering i t is martigras. 

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melissa1106 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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The Cask of Amontillado is a short story about a man named Montresor who is seeks revenge against his enemy Fortunato who has insulted him. Montresor lures him to the catacombs and tortures him. He mocks him and buries him alive using bricks to form a wall. Montresor leaves Fortunato to die and is never caught for his crimes.

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