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 is the plot, setting, conflict, climax, theme, and point of view of "The Cask of Amontillado," and who is the protagonist and antagonist?   Types of Points of Views: 1. omniscient point of view 2. limited 3rd person point of view 3. 1st person point of view  

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Plot: Montresor, who feels that he has been slighted by his "friend" Fortunato, lures the drunken man back to the catacombs with the promise of showing him his pipe of vintage amontillado. Fortunato accompanies Montresor back to his cellars, where Montresor supplies him with more wine. While there, Montresor begins to pave his inebriated target into a niche in the wall. The conclusion reveals that his body is still stuck behind that wall some fifty years later.

Setting: This story is set during the carnival season in a Western European country—likely Italy. The narrative begins on the streets, where Montresor and Fortunato bump into each other, and ends in the catacombs of Montresor, where the murder takes place.

Conflict: The conflict of the narrative centers around the alleged offenses that Fortunato has committed against Montresor, for which Montresor plans to kill Fortunato. 

Climax: The story climaxes as Montresor finishes paving Fortunato behind the wall while listening to his desperate cries: "For the love of God, Montresor!" 

Theme: Themes present within this story include revenge, vigilantism, and taking justice into one's own hands.

Point of view: This story is told from a first person perspective, as Montresor is narrating the story. 

Protagonist: The protagonist is the narrator of the tale, Montresor. 

Antagonist: The antagonist is the gentleman who slighted him, Fortunato. 

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PLOT.  Montresor decides that the time has come for him to enact revenge against the wealthy Fortunato. He lures him into his family's underground catacombs (which also serve as a wine cellar) under the pretense of sampling a rare bottle of Amontillado (a Spanish sherry). But there is no Amontillado. When the two men reach the deepest part of the catacombs, Montresor suddenly chains Fortunato to the floor. He then proceeds to wall up the niche in which Fortunato has been chained, leaving his adversary there to die. Montresor tells the story 50 years in the future--a perfect crime in which the body was never discovered.

SETTING.  In the "supreme madness of the carnival season," probably somewhere in Italy or France. Most of the action takes place in the underground catacombs of the Montresors.

CONFLICT.  Because of the untold "thousand injuries" inflicted by Fortunato upon Montresor, Montresor has decided to kill the man.

CLIMAX.   It comes when Montresor suddenly shackles Fortunato to the floor of the catacombs and begins walling the man up inside.

THEME.  A murderous revenge "with impunity" by Montresor is the main theme. Forgiveness and atonement is a lesser theme.


ANTAGONIST.  Fortunato.

POINT OF VIEW.  First person, with Montresor as the narrator.

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