The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

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The Cask Of Amontillado Setting

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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jamiebadler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Cask of Amontillado takes place in Italy during Carnevale: a festive time in the country similar to Mardi Gras in the United States. We start there, at night, in the madness, but are then taken back to the home of Montressor, more specifically, into the catacombs/wine cellars below. The setting is described as dark and damp, with niter climbing the walls and a mix of casks of wine and bones littering the area. The men carry flambeaux, creating the idea of darkness with only the small light of fire guiding the way. The Carnevale setting provides irony of a horror story taking place in such a festive and unlikely backdrop. 

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Montresor lives in a palazzo. Fortunato lives in a palazzo. There must be plenty of such enormous buildings, and therefore the locale in question would have to be a large, important city. It would have to be in Italy because palazzo is an Italian word. It would have to be a seaport to explain the arrival of a shipment of Amontillado. Amontillado is only produced in Spain. The cask is described by both Fortunato and Montresor as a "pipe." A pipe contains 126 gallons. This is an enormous barrel. A shipment of such barrels could not have been transported over the mountains between Spain and France and then across France and over the Alps into Italy in wagons drawn by mules. It must have arrived by ship from Barcelona. Venice is the only possible destination, since Venice is full of old palazzi built in its former days of glory, and since Venice is still famous for its annual carnival. Neither Montresor nor Fortunato intends to drink all that Amontillado. They see it as an investment. They can store it indefinitely in oak barrels and it will only improve with age. They can bottle it and sell it off in cases to the British and Austrian millionaires Montresor mentions in the third paragraph of the story.

Henry James writes about an old palazzo in his story "The Aspern Papers."  

I forget what answer I made to this--I was given up to two other reflections. The first of these was that if the old lady lived in such a big, imposing house she could not be in any sort of misery and therefore would not be tempted by a chance to let a couple of rooms. I expressed this idea to Mrs. Prest, who gave me a very logical reply. "If she didn't live in a big house how could it be a question of her having rooms to spare? If she were not amply lodged herself you would lack ground to approach her. Besides, a big house here, and especially in this quartier perdu, proves nothing at all: it is perfectly compatible with a state of penury. Dilapidated old palazzi, if you will go out of the way for them, are to be had for five shillings a year. And as for the people who live in them--no, until you have explored Venice socially as much as I have you can form no idea of their domestic desolation. They live on nothing, for they have nothing to live on."                                                                          ...

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sgthayjd | Student

The Cask of Amontillado was written in 1846. The narrator states the murder occurred fifty years earlier.

References to Freemasonry membership, many "English and Austrian millionaires" visiting ltaly (the "Grand Tour") and amontillado would indicate a late 18th Century date for the murder.

So...the narration of the story would be around the time Poe wrote it, or a little earlier. Circa 1845. 

The murder- circa 1795

ericismyname | Student

italy

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chaudryusama | Student

this story is set in the 1800's during carnival season in an unnamed town in italy.

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rawana | Student

In the story “The Cask of Amontillado,” by Edgar Allan Poe, a maddened narrator, Montresor, plans to get revenge on a friend, Fortunato, for some unexplained injustice. The readers learn that Montresor lures him into the catacombs to try a cask of amontillado and then seals him away to die there. This plot, though relatively straightforward, leads the readers into an experience of horror. The story’s setting contributes greatly to the increasing atmosphere of horror, as Poe’s treatments of time and place cause the readers to predict, to fear, and tremble in the unfolding action.

The physical time in “The Cask of Amontillado” produces an element of tension and foreboding to the story. The selection of the time and place also played a significant role in the story. The festival gives Montresor an excellent opportunity not only to appear in disguise, but to locate his inebriated companion and lure him into his deadly lair. According to Womack, Poe introduces us to a familiar carnival atmosphere of indulgence that one can today associate with Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Carnival is the time of celebration and happiness for everybody and for Fortunato to enjoy the pleasures of the season with These long passages and side tunnels with hollowed-out cavities along the walls stretch out like hidden cities of the dead. .

in a brief way:

(It is early evening in an Italian city during a carnival immediately preceding Lent).   

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yellowstang50 | Student

A solid analysis of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" cannot ignore the catacombs as an important detail comprising the setting of this precisely-designed story. To me, this detail of the catacombs suggests Italy, especially since many other details, including names, the coat of arms, etc. draw one's mind to Europe.  In Montresor speaks directly about Italians. The setting is most certainly Italy.  If one accepts Italy as the setting, then one may also be inclined to see the religious references in the story, including catacombs, Freemasons, "For the love of God," etc.  The only legal religion in Italy?  Roman Catholicism. This detail would indicate a possible time as well -- Fat Tuesday.  Montresor wants to complete his sin -- the act of murder -- before Lent begins. Poe was a genius.

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