The Cask of Amontillado Study Guide
The Cask of Amontillado: Themes
The Cask of Amontillado: Characters
The Cask of Amontillado: Analysis
The Cask of Amontillado: Critical Essays
The Cask of Amontillado: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The Cask of Amontillado: Questions & Answers
The Cask of Amontillado: Introduction
The Cask of Amontillado: Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
Introduction to The Cask of Amontillado
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. It was originally published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in November of 1846. The story is narrated in the first-person by Montresor, who informs readers that he is writing in retrospect about the revenge he once enacted upon a man named Fortunato. The reason for the narrator’s revenge is never specified, adding to both the mystery and horror elements of the story. As in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat,” the narrator of “The Cask of Amontillado” is unreliable and immoral. However, in contrast to the narrators of the other stories, whose madness becomes increasingly undeniable, Montresor emerges as a uniquely calm, cunning, and unrepentant figure.
One of Poe’s central philosophies was that short stories should strive for a “unity of effect,” meaning that all of the elements of a composition should support a central feeling or impression. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a horror story, specifically one that features a chilling scene of live burial. Poe's imagery and diction combine to create a tone that is fittingly tense, dark, and claustrophobic.
A Brief Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was an American writer who gained fame for his gothic tales. Poe’s life story makes it easy to see where the author got his ideas and how his work relates to his experience. First, his father abandoned the family; then his mother died when he was very young, and his foster father, John Allen, erratically swung between lenience and extreme discipline; finally, Poe married his much younger cousin Virginia, who died at an early age. It’s no wonder, then, that Poe's work focused on the macabre, the bizarre, and the outcast—the wonder is that he found a way to make such striking art from his suffering. Before his death at age forty, Edgar Allan Poe raised the American short story to a new level, writing works that completely modernized detective fiction, science fiction, and, of course, the horror story. His most well-known works include the poems “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”; the short stories ”The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”; and the novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.