What are some allusions (and explanations of allusions) from "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe?  If you could list some and explain them it'd be a big help. :)

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early in the text, Montresor explains that the events he relates occur during "the supreme madness of the Carnival season." The Carnival season takes place just prior to the Lenten season, and it is celebrated by Catholics all over Europe but most especially in Italy. Technically, it is the period of time between January at the end of Epiphany (the twelfth and last day of Christmas) and the day before Ash Wednesday (when Lent begins), also known as Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras). The last week of this period, however, is the most raucous. There are public celebrations, and people dress in costumes for big parties and parades. This is why, in the story, Fortunato is dressed as a jester, and it is also why Montresor can put on a mask and long cloak without drawing attention to himself. He would just appear to be in costume as so many other people are, and masks are very common and popular during Carnival.

Poe's choice of Amontillado as the wine with which Montresor tempts Fortunato also works as an allusion because it requires some prior knowledge if one is to understand fully the conversation between the two men before they descend into the vaults. Montresor tells his nemesis that he's purchased a very large quantity of Amontillado, and he knows that the prospect of being the one to tell him that Montresor has been taken advantage of will be too tempting for Fortunato to pass up. Amontillado is a Spanish sherry wine which is somewhat rare and costly because of its complex aging process. Apparently, Montresor chooses to lie about purchasing this wine because Fortunato would know that he paid a hefty sum for the pipe, believing it to be Amontillado, and this would heighten Fortunato's sense of superiority that much more. Knowing how proud the man is, Montresor knows that Fortunato will never pass up the opportunity to: tell Montresor he was wrong and purchased a lesser quality wine erroneously; to gloat over the fact that Montresor would have overpaid so much, believing he was purchasing the rarer sherry; and lord his own superior wine knowledge over Montresor, attempting to shame Montresor with his costly mistake.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator


An allusion is a literary figure of speech that makes a brief "reference to, or representation of, a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication." The term is often mistaken for what is otherwise a "simple reference." There are several examples of allusions in "TCOA."

  • "He prided himself on his connoisseur-ship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practise imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires." -- The mention of the "British and Austrian millionaires" is an allusion to the subjects whom the Italian wine experts aim their verbal expertise.
  • "It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend." -- This alludes to the annual carnival (presumably in an unidentified Italian town), which occurs throughout many parts of the world.
  • “ 'I forget your arms.' ”
    “ 'A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.' ”
    “ 'And the motto?' ” '
    " 'Nemo me impune lacessit.' " -- Poe alludes here to both the Montressor coat-of-arms and the family motto.
  • “ 'Then you are not of the brotherhood.' "
    “ 'How?' ”
    “ 'You are not of the masons.' ” -- An important allusion in the story, Fortunato is asking Montressor (by flashing a secret sign) if he is a member of the Freemasons, a secret brotherhood. Although Montressor claims that he is a member, he is not; instead, in an ironic twist, he holds up a trowel in response to the hand sign displayed by Fortunato. The trowel is a masonry tool--the one which will seal Fortunato's doom.
Read the study guide:
The Cask of Amontillado

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question