What prediction did you make after reading about Montresor's and Fortunato's shared interest in wine? Explain.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The cask of Amontillado is twice described as a "pipe." A pipe is a barrel containing 126 gallons. Montresor tells Fortunato that he has just bought it at a bargain price and is afraid it might not be genuine Amontillado (partly, at least, because it was a bargain). Montresor is obviously in a hurry to get an expert to sample it. He claims that since he wasn't able to find Fortunato, he is on his way to Luchesi that very night. Why the hurry, since he has already bought the wine and had the big barrel moved to his cellar? It seems likely that Montresor has bought the wine for resale, not for  personal consumption. It seems likely, also, that Fortunato is interested in the wine as a potential investment. Montresor would have bought more than one cask if he had been sure it was genuine. He is in a big hurry to have an expert pass judgment because he wants to buy more that very night, before word leaks out that a cargo of Amontillado from Barcelona has just arrived in port. At least, this is what Montresor wants Fortunato to believe. There really is no Amontillado, not even one cask in Montresor's cellar. He wants Fortunato to think that time is of the essence. Otherwise there would be no need for Fortunato to accompany him to his palazzo to taste the wine. Fortunato could easily make inquiries, find the shipload of Amontillado and taste it on board (which he what he probably assumes Montresor did). The only reason he goes with Montresor is that he doesn't want Luchesi to hear about the Amontillado and start making his own inquiries. (This part of Montresor's ploy shows his fiendish cunning.) Both men are interested in the wine as investments, and Luchesi would only be interested in it for the same purpose. Time is of the essence. Fortunato is thinking--and Montresor knows he is thinking--that he will sample Montresor's wine, purse his lips, shake his head, and pronounce it to be ordinary sherry. Then, having forestalled Luchesi and having dissuaded Montresor from purchasing any more of the cargo, Fortunato can locate the Amontillado and buy the whole shipload at a bargain price. It is tricks such as these that are among the "thousand injuries" Montresor seeks to avenge. Fortunato is drunk. He has a cold. He would not accompany Montresor on that unpleasant underground journey just to drink a glass of Amontillado, or to accommodate a friend, or to show off his connoisseurship. Amontillado is not all that rare. If Fortunato wanted a glass, he could buy it in any bar. The only things that make it so attractive are the big quantity and the bargain price. It can be bought in 126-gallon oaken barrels and sold off in bottles at 100% profit. The third paragraph of Poe's story is intended to show that Montresor and Fortunato are dealers in expensive merchandise, including paintings and jewelry. Venice is a decaying city, long past its glory days, slowly sinking into the sea. Once wealthy aristocrats are forced to sell off family heirlooms in order to survive. There are numerous opportunities for men like Montresor and Fortunato to act as discreet brokers between these needy sellers and "British and Austrian millionaires." Amontillado would also interest Montresor, Fortunato, Luchesi, and their customers.

holfie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hi Barnold 8,

One prediction I would make after reading about Montresor and Fortunato's shared interest in wine would be that Montresor will use wine in some way to exact his revenge on Fortunato.

Indeed, this is exactly what happens.  Montresor decides that Fortunato should pay the ultimate price for his past actions when he decides to bury him alive.  The wine factors in as a lure to get Fortunato into the wine cellar where Montresor intends to bury him.  Montresor claims to have a rare and expensive brand of wine and asks Fortunato to accompany him into the wine cellar to taste it and to help Montresor decide if the wine truly is the expensive brand (the Amontillado).

From the beginning, we are told that Montresor seeks revenge.  Shortly thereafter, in his description of Fortunato, Montresor mentions the shared interest in wine.  As Poe is a man of few unnecessary words, the reader can intuit that the wine will factor in.  Also helpful is the fact that the story itself is called "The Cask of Amontillado."  A cask is a barrel-type container used to hold liquids.  Thus, we go into the story knowing that some sort of drink or liquid will figure prominently in the action.

Hope this helps!

Teacher Holfie

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The Cask of Amontillado

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