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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Why is carnival season an ideal time for Montresor to carry out his plan?

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Carnival season is an "upside down" time of partying and revels. Montresor calls it a season of "extreme madness," one ideal for enacting his mad plan of walling up his hated rival, Fortunato, in a catacomb.

In this first place, Fortunato is already drunk when Montresor runs into him. Fortunato has been "drinking much," Montresor says. Therefore, Fortunato's judgment was already impaired, and he was unlikely to question what was happening until it was too late. Further, the season gives Montresor the excuse to tell his servants he will be gone all night and to forbid them to leave the house, knowing that as soon as he is gone they too will all head out to enjoy the carnival. This leaves the house empty so that Montresor can enact his plan without witnesses or interference.

Finally, Montresor is going for effect and the carnival is a perfect backdrop for his evil plan. There is something delicious in Fortunato going to his doom in a cap jingling with bells and a parti-striped outfit. Also, during this period of madness, nobody is likely to notice Fortunato's disappearance until it is far too late--and even then, might assume he died in an accident. 

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During the carnival season everyone will be partying and drinking. This is a great opportunity for Montresor to let his servants skip out for the weekend and he can lure Fortunado into his "basement" --catacombs--to check out a cask of wine.  This wine is fictional, but he pretends to have such a cask and "has his doubts" about it.  By playing up to Fortunado's pride and the fact that he's a bit drunk, Montresor is able to talk him into coming over so he can kill him.  Everyone else will be busy and not notice thier disappearance.

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