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

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

An analysis of the setting, characters, and plot of "The Cask of Amontillado."

Summary:

"The Cask of Amontillado" is set in an unnamed Italian city during a carnival, highlighting themes of deception and revenge. The main characters are Montresor, who seeks vengeance, and Fortunato, his unsuspecting victim. The plot centers on Montresor luring Fortunato into the catacombs with the promise of rare wine, ultimately leading to Fortunato's entombment and death.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In which country is "The Cask of Amontillado" set?

The setting is not determined.  Fortunato is mentioned as being Italian (Montresor's contempt for Italians adds to his contempt for Fortunato), but Montresor may possibly be French (the French frequently display a strong antipathy toward other "lesser" nationalities).    Since the Montresor home has been occupied for many generations, it is assumed that is somewhere in Europe, though New Orleans is also a possibility (due to the mention of the carnival--Mardi Gras).

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the characters and what is the setting in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story, "The Cask of Amontillado," takes place in an unnamed locale, but it is undoubtedly somewhere in 18th or early 19th century Italy. It takes place during the "height of the carnival season," a time of costumed revelry. The two main characters, Montressor and Fortunato, are wealthy men from old families. Apparently, they have known each other for years, but they can hardly be called friends. It is Montressor who decides to murder Fortunato, and he uses his acquaintance's weakness for the grape--in this case, amontillado--to lure him to his death deep in the family catacombs.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What detail of "The Cask of Amontillado" setting is especially appropriate to the plot?

Most significantly, that is it the Carnival season for Poe's setting gives rise tothe masquerade, recalling the Restoration Period of England in which the aristocracy disguised themselves and partied with those of the lower classes. Disguised, these people entertained their more prurient desires without reproach. Likewise, Montresor entertains his horrifying reprisals against Fortunatoby means of guise within the setting of the Carnival, a time of promiscuity, revelries, and debauchery. 

Interestingly, however, Poe turns the setting of the masque into his classic arabesque that twists and subverts the plot as much of the guise is what actually is apparent, not what is hidden.  For instance, Fortunato is disguised as a harlequin, or fool, when he really is foolish so he should not wear a disguise for what he already is. Another example occurs when Fortunato asks Montresor, "You are not of the masons?"  and Montresor ironically replies, "Yes, yes" playing upon the double entendre of the word mason. In another masque Montresor, an Italian, presents the family coat of arms to Fortunato, but it is disguised by the motto of the royal arms of Scotland which indicates Montesor's deadly intentions. 

Certainly Montesor, under the appearance of disguise gives Fortunato several hints of his intentions, but Fortunato is too crass to comprehend them.  So, the real disguise in "The Cask of Amontillado" is the reality of Poe's horrific deed done during the time of the masque and the Carnival; a punishment with impunity.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does "The Cask of Amontillado" begin? How does the conflict start?

The very initial situation, or the initial source of the conflict, is that Fortunato and Montressor have a long history with each other. They have been rude to each other and hurt each other for a long time over many years. We don't exactly know the details, but we know that they are certainly NOT friends. 

Montressor decides that if he can lure Fortunato into saying something rude about him, perhaps they can be done with their fighting forever--literally. So, when Fortunato follows him down into the catacombs, Montressor jumps at his opportunity. They are bickering back and forth when Montressor brings up the topic of Luchesi--and this sets them both off.

Fortunato calls Luchesi and ignoramus and Montressor believes this is his chance! He chains Fortunato inside a casket and slowly builds a brick wall around the casket so that Fortunato will suffocate to death. In this way, we know that the conflict has ended forever and that Fortunato knew exactly who was punishing him.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

Montresor, the narrator, says that it is the "carnival season," the time just before the Lenten season when many largely Catholic European countries (such as Italy) celebrate—similar to Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent). People wear costumes and masks, attending public festivals and indulging in rich foods and, in Fortunato's case, a fairly large quantity of alcohol. This is why Fortunato is dressed in costume as a jester; he's wearing a multicolored costume and a cone-shaped hat with bells. It is this setting, during Carnival, that permits Montresor to disguise himself so that he is not seen with Fortunato and cannot, later, be identified. Once he and Fortunato start to go toward Montresor's home, he puts on a "mask of black silk, and draw[s] a roquelaire," or long cloak, around himself. His costume would not alarm anyone because everyone would be in costume.

Further, there are also lots of parties going on, and so Montresor knows that he can get rid of his servants without raising any red flags. He told them that he would be away from home all night and that they shouldn't leave the house knowing "These orders were sufficient . . . to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as [his] back was turned." This means that no one would see Fortunato go into Montresor's house. Because of the story's setting, Montresor can disguise himself and eliminate any witnesses without alarming anyone.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

The setting of Poe's classic short story "The Cask of Amontillado" takes place at an Italian carnival and later in the depths of Montresor's extensive catacombs. The initial carnival setting creates a chaotic, frenzied mood, and the cheerful atmosphere juxtaposes Montresor's cruel intentions. While Fortunato and the community celebrate the festive carnival, Montresor executes his murderous plot. The fact that Montresor initiates his evil plan in the midst of a joyous occasion contributes to the horror of the story as the audience recognizes that nowhere is safe from a determined enemy. The carnival setting also allows Montresor to inconspicuously approach Fortunato, who is too intoxicated and distracted by the merry atmosphere to recognize that he is in grave danger.

After the characters travel to Montresor's palazzo, the setting shifts to his extensive catacombs, which are extremely dark, damp, and cold. Inside Montresor's vaults, nitre hangs from the ceiling; skulls and bones line the walls, and various wine bottles are scattered on the floor. The setting creates an ominous, eerie mood, which reflects Montresor's malicious intentions and foreshadows Fortunato's fate. The further they travel down the vaults, the darker the setting becomes and the more Fortunato isolates himself, increasing his vulnerability and playing perfectly into Montresor's hands. Once Fortunato reaches the end of the catacombs, Montresor quickly shackles him to the back wall and builds a rampart around his body. The story's horror reaches its climax when the audience realizes that Fortunato will be buried alive in the depths of the catacombs, where no one will hear his cries or come to his aid.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

Montresor specifically chooses the carnival as a setting for his murderous plans to help conceal his crime. In this way, setting is crucial to the plot.

As Montresor spots Fortunato in the streets of the festival, he notices that the man is already feeling the effects of an alcoholic celebration:

He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much.

This demonstrates Montresor's knowledge of the way Fortunato would participate in the festivities. Fortunato's propensity for alcohol also means that his judgement is already impaired, and he will be less likely to ask questions that could ruin Montresor's plans.

The festival also provides a means for festive dress. Symbolically, Fortunato is also wearing a "conical cap and bells," or a clown's hat. This represents Fortunato's foolish trust in Montresor's devious plans.

Montresor knows that Fortunato has a "weak point" in his pride of wine connoisseurship. Because of the festival, mentioning his own supposed doubts about a cask of Amontillado is a particularly easy means of diverting Fortunato into the man's eventual place of death.

The festival also provides Montresor with a means of getting rid of everyone who might witness him entering the family's catacombs, thereby ensuring there are no witnesses to his crime:

There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honor of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house.

In short, Montresor is able to utilize the festivities of the carnival in combination with his knowledge of Fortunato's weaknesses and exploit both for his murderous plans. He correctly predicts that Fortunato will be so wrapped up in the festivities that his judgement will be impaired, and Montresor is thus able to lead him to an eerie catacomb because of Fortunato's pride.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

The story is set largely in catacombs underneath Montresor's home in Italy.

The setting contributes significantly to the horror of the story. It is dark, cold, and damp in the catacombs. Because catacombs are burial vaults, Montresor and Fortunato pass by piles of bones, the remains of dead bodies. Nitre, a chemical irritant to the lungs when inhaled, lines the walls. As Montresor explains to Fortunato:

The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre.

Montresor will later say of the nitre:

It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river’s bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough——”

Montresor's words add to the horror, as the nitre poses a particular problem for Fortunato with his weak lungs. The catacombs also offer a sharp contrast to the revelry of the Carnival, where crowds of people are partying up above. Montresor and Fortunato are all alone in the catacombs, far away from any noise but what they themselves make and far from any possibility of being heard. This creates the perfect environment for Montresor to wall up his enemy.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

This question has also been previously asked and answered. Please see the links below for more information, and thank you for using eNotes.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

The setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" is in Italy during the carnival season.  Even more specific than that, the bulk of the plot takes place in the vaults, cellar, or catacombs beneath the home of Montressor, the story's main character and narrator.  The most important detail of the setting that contributes to the horror or suspense of the story is the fact that the two main characters, Montressor and Fortunado, are walking through a vault underneath Montressor's family mansion which holds the dead remains of his ancestors. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

For some aspects of the setting (in both time and place) of this story, we have to use the narrator's clues to make an educated guess. For example, although the narrator doesn't give us a specific date for when the action of the story occurs, he gives us a very good clue:

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend.

From this description, we can infer that Montresor, the vengeful narrator, meets Fortunato at about 5:30 p.m. on or near the last day of the Carnival season, which would be the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday: the beginning of Lent, forty days before Easter.

Given the names of the main characters, Montresor and Fortunato, as well as the fact that Carnival (the Italian name for the pre-Lent celebration) is being celebrated, it is reasonable to assume that the geographical setting is Italy. More specifically, because the most famous Carnival celebration in Italy is held in Venice (which, in the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries, was known for its internal political and social intrigue), we can also reasonably believe that Venice is the city in which the story is set. The specific setting of Fortunato's death, of course, is in the vaults or catacombs underneath Montresor's palazzo. This is where Montresor's ancestors are buried, as we know when Fortunato announces, “I drink . . . to the buried that repose around us."

Montresor and Fortunato are friends, but clearly Fortunato has incurred Montresor's wrath for an unspecified "insult" that is even more serious than the "thousand injuries" Fortunato has inflicted on Montresor before. Later in the narrative, we begin to understand Montresor a bit better when we see that the motto of the Montresor family is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which loosely translates as, "No one harms me and goes unpunished." Montresor's vengeance against Fortunato is simply a family tradition. Fortunato is characterized by Montresor as

You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter.

This somewhat disguised bitterness on Montresor's part indicates that although these families were once equal in social status, Fortunato is now above Montresor's station, and as the Montresors appear to have been an intensely proud family, Montresor feels this difference keenly. The friends' different social status undoubtedly increases the severity of the "insult" felt by Montresor, who has become trapped by his vengeful nature. For his part, Fortunato is a pompous dilettante. This is evident when the two are in the vaults and Fortunato makes a Masonic sign, which he believes Montresor cannot understand:

“You do not comprehend?” he said.
“Not I,” I replied.
“Then you are not of the brotherhood.”
“How?”
“You are not of the masons.”
“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”
“You? Impossible! A mason?”

Fortunato, in scoffing at Montresor's joking comment that he, too, is a mason (because he's going to use a trowel to bury Fortunato—he's a stonemason), is attempting to remind Montresor that he is no longer equal to Fortunato.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

The setting of this story is Venice, in Italy, but most particularly, the catacombs --what were once underground graves--beneath Montresor's home. Think of the characters as going through a series of dark, underground tunnels or caverns, lit only by the flame of their torches. Near the end of their journey, we do see piles of bones from old corpses.

The time is the Mardi Gras, the festival that occurs the day before Lent, so probably February. The story takes place 50 years before Montresor, on his deathbed, is telling it, but the year is not specified.  

The story has only two characters who are part of the action: Montresor and Fortunato. They have known each other for many years. Both love fine wines. Montresor feels he has suffered injuries, and worse, insult, from Fortunato, so he wants revenge: he wants to kill Fortunato in some way so that Fortunato knows Montresor is the murderer but nobody else finds out. Fortunato shows that he is proud of his knowledge of wines. He is also drunk and easily tricked by Montresor. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" and how does it contribute to the horror?

The setting of the story is very important to create the spooky mood that contributes to the horror.  Notice that the scene is first described as being almost dark.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend.

It is dusk, which is a spooky time of night.  The impending dark symbolizes impending doom.  The carnival season is described as “supreme madness,” which reinforces the idea that there is chaos and a lack of inhibition about.  This kind of environment is conducive to wickedness. 

Local customs are part of the setting too.  The carnival season in Italy allows people to not be themselves.  Fortunato is dressed in motley, like a clown, with “tight-fitting parti-striped dress” and a “conical cap and bells” on his head.  He is drunk, because it is a party.  All of this contributes to the strange macabre juxtaposition of gaiety and grimness.

The sense of horror is increased as things get darker and the scene moves underground.  When Montresor lures Fortunato into the catacombs, we know that trouble is coming.

I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.

The winding staircase, the shining torches, and the damp ground of the tomb are all specific details of the setting that contribute to horror.  The catacombs are tunnels underground that were used as tombs.  Montresor’s family uses this catacomb.  Since we already know that Montresor wants to get revenge on Fortunato for some undescribed injury, we can only guess that no good will come of this.

It is because it is carnival and no one will miss them, and because they go deep underground at dusk, that Montresor is able to murder Fortunato and make sure that no one will find the body.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

The setting of the story is absolutely crucial to establishing the overall mood. The story takes place against the backdrop of a carnival when everyone's out and about enjoying themselves, getting blind drunk and wearing silly costumes. Yet the action itself takes place in the dark, dank catacombs, where the wicked Montresor will confine the hapless Fortunato to his final resting place.

The juxtaposition of two such radically different events—a joyous celebration and a cold-blooded murder—is entirely in keeping with Poe's black humor and makes the horror that finally unfolds all the more effective when it comes. Right up until the very end, we entertain the barest of hopes that this is all some gigantic prank by Montresor and that he won't really wall up poor old Fortunato alive inside a crypt. In fact, that's precisely what Fortunato himself believes, though it's probably just wishful thinking on his part.

Montresor actually confesses his crime right at the start of the story. But as so many of Poe's narrators are notoriously unreliable, we're never quite sure whether or not to believe him. That this brutal, sadistic murder takes place during a carnival, when so many people play the fool, might suggest that Montresor's playing a huge prank on us, the very people to whom he's relating his story.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe is a classic tale of revenge in which a man named Montresor prepares and executes the elaborate murder of the drunken nobleman Fortunato. Poe uses the settings in the story to create foreshadowing and draw the reader deeper and deeper into the horror of the conclusion.

In the beginning of the story, the setting is described as "the supreme madness of the carnival season." This explains Fortunato's outlandish outfit and the fact that he is drunk and therefore pliable to Montresor's suggestions. The imagined gaiety of the carnival also serves as a contrast to the dark, damp, lonely catacombs into which they descend.

Once Montresor lures Fortunato into 'the vaults," Poe uses numerous aspects of the setting to create an atmosphere of dismal terror. They go "down a long and winding staircase" to "the damp ground of the catacombs." The narrator mentions that nitre (a white mineral) "hangs like moss on the vaults." They pass under "a range of low arches" and arrive at a deep crypt in which the air is foul. Within the crypt are human remains, meaning skeletons and scattered bones. Poe uses all these details of setting to build up a sense of eerie dread to prepare the reader for the horror at the end.

The last setting is past the human remains, in the darkest chamber at the end, where Montresor chains Fortunato to the wall and then bricks up the entrance. This setting is meant to convey the darkness and isolation of the tomb and the ultimate horror of Fortunato's death.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

The setting of the story is ironic, given the fact that Montresor kills Fortunato during the carnival season, and takes place in both the festive streets of an unspecified European city, as well as in Montresor's eerie family catacombs. The jovial carnival season is juxtaposed with Montresor's malevolent plans and the gloomy atmosphere of the catacombs. Montresor's deceptive nature is further emphasized and revealed by his evil plans to murder Fortunato during such a happy time. The setting of the carnival season is depicted as a confused, chaotic atmosphere, which also correlates with the main characters' complex relationship. As the characters travel through the bright streets of the carnival to the depths of Montresor's catacombs, the atmosphere of the story becomes more ominous and foreboding. Montresor and Fortunado's journey beneath the palazzo also symbolically represents Montresor's descent into darkness as he embraces his wicked nature.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

In contrast to the previous answer, the setting of a story includes time frame in which the tale takes place. It is sheer irony that this story is taking place during Carnival, a jovial, festive time of the year in Italy. It is ironic that the brightly clothed Fortunato is taken from the festivities and thrust into the darkness of Montressor's vaults to meet his death.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

In "The Cask of Amontillado," a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, the setting of the story plays a critical role in such elements as the mood of the story.  The mood of Poe's story is eerie and full of suspense; the use of descriptive words and imagery add to the sense of tension and foreboding experienced by the reader.

"The niter!" I said; "see, it increases.  It hangs like moss upon the vaults.  We are below the river's bed.  The drops of moisture trickle among the bones..."

By describing the Fortunato and Montresor's descension into the catacombs, Poe also symbolizes Montresor's descent into darkness and evil.  As the two continue onward, the mood becomes more sinister as the setting of the story becomes increasingly frightening.

...We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.

The poor quality of the air, which can barely even keep a torch's flame burning, foreshadows Fortunato's death (dying of the flame).  This remote underground location is the perfect setting for a murder.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

“We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs.”

The setting in many stories becomes as important as the characters.  In “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, there are many layers of the setting. This contributes to the perfect crime committed by Montresor.

Montresor, an interesting protagonist, makes plans to kill Fortunato.  His detailed design includes every possible angle to ensure the fulfillment of his desired revenge against the man who has harmed him many times but now has insulted him. 

The time of the year is the carnival season. Everyone will be dressed in a costume and masked.  No one will be able to recognize the other people. 

Other plans had to be made before this. First, Montresor makes sure that his servants will not be at his house by forbidding them to attend the carnival.  Naturally, they go anyway. 

Next, in advance, Montresor prepares everything in the catacombs for the last part of his revenge. The catacombs are an important part of the plot.  Used as burial sites for the families, the catacombs go deep under the ground.  Niches in the walls were made to place the corpses which often would fall on to the floor as the flesh wore away from the skeleton. 

Because of the eerie surroundings, smell, and dampness, no one would enter the catacombs unless they had to go.  The farthest reaches of the tunnel would never be touched because they would have already been filled with the bodies of ancestors of long ago.  This was the perfect place to bury someone alive.

Montresor already had placed his accoutrements down in the catacombs: shackles in place; mortar and bricks; and the niche where he would build the wall ready.  The preparations were complete.

Fortunato fancies himself a connoisseur of wine. Montresor knows this and makes plans to lure the unsuspecting Fortunato to his catacombs where he keeps his wine.  He tells Fortunato about a rather rare wine, Amontillado, that Montresor is not sure is real. Entreating his help to be sure about the wine, Montresor gains Fortunato’s agreement to go to his house and taste the wine.

Suffering from a cold and too much alcohol, Fortunato easily follows his murderer to the appointed end of the catacombs to taste the amontillado.  Unfortunately for Fortunato, Montresor has something else in mind. 

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious.  Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this way. The walls were made solid granite.

Easily chained to the wall, Fortunato does not understand in the beginning. Slowly, he realizes what is happening and begins to yell and scream. Montresor accompanies him with the screaming telling Fortunato that no one will ever hear because they are so deep in the catacombs. Finally, all that can be heard are the bells of his jester’s hat.

Montresor completes his brickwork with just a bit of guilt.  The setting enabled him to attain his desired revenge. Fifty years later, the bones have not been disturbed. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

The contrast in the two primary settings of "The Cask of Amontillado" is especially powerful in contributing to the confusion of Fortunato and the eerie mood that Poe creates.

Fortunato encounters Montresor during a carnival. American readers might liken this setting to something akin to Mardi Gras: wild festivities, an abundance of alcohol, and generally convivial crowds. Fortunato is ready to fully engage in the festive atmosphere, as is evident by his dress:

The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells.

Fortunato also prides himself as a wine connoisseur, so this scene would have particular interest for him. Ready to engage in all the Carnival can offer, he is not skeptical of a "friend's" offer to take him to investigate the authenticity of some Amontillado.

As Fortunato leaves with Montresor, the setting changes quickly—and so does Fortunato's health. He begins coughing as they stand on the "damp grounds of the catacombs of the Montresors." The setting is no longer festive and jubilant but ominous and foreboding. Fortunato's body seems to react to this drastic change in setting in a way his mind cannot grasp. Montresor actually provides him with an opportunity to leave, telling him,

We will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed.

Yet Montresor gauges Fortunato's personality correctly, knowing that his pride and curiosity will lead him deeper into the catacombs instead of choosing the option which would have ultimately spared his life. From there, the setting grows more eerie. The moisture hangs on the "bones" of the catacombs as they descend again and again until the air is foul.

This descent represents the final fall of Fortunato. Led to his own tomb by an unforeseen foe and his own pride, he is forever cut off from the free-spirited and joyous world above him.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

The setting of Poe's macabre tale is important to the plot because it happens during the often crazy and unpredictable time of Carnival. In Italy at the time, Carnival was a riotous festival which came just before the religious observances of Lent and Easter. During Lent, practicing Catholics will fast, giving up meat and alcohol for up to six weeks. Fittingly, Carnival is defined as a farewell to meat (carne=meat and vale=farewell). During Carnival, meat and especially alcohol are in abundance. Participants also don masks and wild costumes such as the "conical cap and bells" worn by Fortunato.

Montresor carefully chooses this as the backdrop for his sinister plan. First, he knows that his servants will not be around as witnesses, because they will be busy indulging in celebration. Second, he knows that Fortunato will have been drinking and not in full control of his capacities, making him easier to lure into the depths of the catacombs. Montresor boasts at the beginning of the story that he would get away with the murder of Fortunato. The fact that the entire town is preoccupied aids his success in this endeavor.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

The setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" is important because of its emotional effect on the reader. Montresor lures Fortunato into the gruesome underground catacombs with the promise of a delicious wine. Poe is luring the reader into this same setting by arousing his curiosity about what is going to happen and at the same time making the reader want to see that cask in his imagination and taste it vicariously. But in order to follow Montresor and Fortunato, the reader, in imagination, has to travel through that dark, evil-smelling setting full of human bones. The setting is part of the total experience of the story. It is almost as harrowing as Dante's descent into hell or the earlier descent into hell by Odysseus.

Poe begins the story up on the streets where everybody is making merry. The reader doesn't know what he is in for. He is gradually drawn into Montresor's palazzo, down a flight of stairs into a wine cellar, then along a series of darker passages full of human bones, and finally to the site of Fortunato's immolation. The reader can appreciate the full horror of Fortunato's fate because he can now understand what it would be like to be left down there forever.

Poe also had a plot problem. He wanted to keep Fortunato from talking because his intended victim would surely be asking questions about the Amontillado. Who did you buy it from? How much did you pay?  Have you told anyone else about it?  Why haven't I heard about the shipment? Why did you store the cask so far from the bottom of the stairs? Where are you taking me? Fortunato could become suspicious if Montresor could not provide satisfactory answers to all the questions he might think of. And Poe has established that Fortunato knows more about Amontillado than does Montresor. Fortunato could ask questions that neither Montresor nor Poe could answer. So Poe provided Fortunato with a bad cold and a cough, making it hard for "his poor friend" to talk. But if there is going to be limited dialogue as the two men wend their way through the catacombs, then Poe will have to fill the space with description, which he does.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What impact does the setting have in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Poe's story is somewhat like Dante's Inferno. The setting is of the utmost importance because of the effect it has on the reader's imagination and on the reader's nerves. In following Montresor and Fortunato down into the catacombs and along the dark, winding tunnels lined with human bones, the reader is being taken on a trip through a place that resembles hell. This was Poe's intention. Montresor lures Fortunato underground, and Poe lures the reader underground. By describing the actual horror of the setting, Poe makes the reader experience the horror that must have been felt by Fortunato when he found himself trapped down there and realized that he was going to be left to die there. Just as Fortunato is lured by the Amontillado, the reader is lured by the nonexistent cask of wine. The reader wants to see that cask and to taste that exquisite wine in imagination. An interesting question would be: When does it become apparent to Fortunato and to the reader that there never was any cask of Amontillado?

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What impact does the setting have in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The word impact means bearing or involvement in the case of the this story. It is asking how strong is the setting in realtion to the story?

 The setting is very important.  It begins on the street at a time when Christians are partying because it is almost time for the season of Lent.  Lent in the Catholic tradition is a very serious, somber time when people sacrifice food and wine for their religious pennance.

The story would not work if it hadn't taken place during what is called "Carnevale" in Europe. That is where the word carnival in English got its roots.  Carne = meat.   It is a time when people party and eat meat and drink wine because they will give all that up during Lent. It is also a time to dress in costumes. Neither Fortunato nor Montresor can be recognized because they are wearing disguises.  A perfect way to set someone up to be murdered.  Just think Mardi Gras in the United States!

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What impact does the setting have in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Impact means how does it affect you as you read the story. "The Cask of Amontillado’’ is one of those stories that relies heavily on the setting to create the sense of forboding and danger that is present from the very beginning. Although the setting in terms of time and exact location are vague, the hints of being in the catacombs of Montresor's home and being aware of his evil intentions causes increased tension on the part of the reader. The murky atmosphere of the catacombs creates fear and anxiety in the reader that increases as his evil plans of revenge become more and more obvious as the story progresses.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What impact does the setting have in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In this sense 'impact' means what effect or impression does the setting give the reader.

Poe's writing is considered to be in the Gothic genre, therefore his setting is similarly Gothic.  The two men go deep down into the dungeon or cellar and all the words used to describe the setting give the reader a creepy feeling.  The fact that they are in a crypt is scary enough but Poe continues to 'scare' the reader by describing in detail the thick stones, the dampness of the room and so on.  

In this way the 'impact' on the story and the reader is very strong.  The story would not be as strong if it were set in a living room.  He could have just as easily chained Fortunato up in a bedroom hidden away, but he did not.  He brought him into a tomb alive, which makes the story much scarier. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

There are several aspects of the setting that contribute to the suspenseful and eerie mood of "The Cask of Amontillado."

First, the story opens in the midst of a festival. The narrator notes that daylight is quickly fading, and there is a "madness" associated with the festival atmosphere. Fortunato arrives dressed as a jester, playing the part of a fool. This heightens the tension, as the narrator has already indicated his desire for "revenge" upon the man. Because of the festivities, Fortunato has already been "drinking much," which likely impedes his judgment.

Montresor lures Fortunato into his family catacombs, which significantly increases the sense of imminent danger. The men continue a steady descent into the bowels of death:

We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.

Montresor has completely isolated himself and Fortunato, and there is precious little oxygen to share. Consequently, the torch fails to emit light, symbolizing the death of hope.

As the men continue forward, the walls are "lined with human remains," which are piled high into the vault. Still, Fortunato is so singularly focused on the Amontillado that he ignores the increasingly morbid signs of danger all around him.

The setting's elements of darkness and mystery enhance an increasingly eerie mood as the conflict between Montresor and Fortunato intensifies.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What details of the setting contribute to the horror of the story in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Clearly the setting is used very effectively by Poe in this, as in all his fiction, to help create and sustain the mood of terror and horror that dominates his work. For me, it is highly significant that Montresor takes his victim Fortuanto ever-deeper into his catacombs. Consider the following quote:

We had passed through walls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs...

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris.

It is important to note how the description of these catacombs contributes to the general feeling of horror and dread that Poe creates. Upon re-reading the story, we realise that the dead remains they pass actually foreshadow the unfortunate end of Fortunato at the hand of Montresor. However, in addition to this, what is really interesting is the symbolic use of the catacombs. For as we delve ever-deeper we are penetrating not just into the depths of the Montresor catacombs, but also into the psyche of Montresor himself. At the lowest depths of the catacombs Montresor takes off his socially respectable mask and reveals himself for the homicidal maniac he really is, before he presumably goes back above ground and replaces his mask of social respectability.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

Indubitably, setting is the most important element of Poe's short story, "The Cask of Amontillado."  With the ideal location for his nefarious plan of redressing the hyperbolic "thousand injuries of Fortunato," Montresor feels empowered in his design to lure Fortunato away from the celebrations of the Carnival and lead him through the labryinth of the family catacombs where no one will hear or learn about his deadly plan. 

In addition, the structure of the catacombs with its narrowing passages and increasing niter affords the sadistic Montresor opportunities for increasing torture of his victim. For example, Montresor taunts his victim, knowing that he already has respiratory problems:

"The niter!" I said; "see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults....The drops of moisture trickle among the bones.  Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough--"

Then, as they traverse the chambers leading to where the cask of wine is supposed to be, Montresor takes Fortunato to a remote part of the crypt where human bones are piled up and thrown "promiscuously upon the earth,"  a sight which surely strikes fear in Fortunato.

After Montresor has Fortunato peer into an especially dark aperture, he surreptitiously fetters the man dressed in harlequin costume to the wall. Perversely, Montresor feigns continued concern for his victim's health. Clearly, the sinister setting of the catacombs fuels and abets the sadisitic nature of the narrator and worsens the chances for the feckless Fortunato.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" affect the story?

The setting influences the story’s point of view because

Setting is where and when a story takes place.  The important thing to remember is that the setting encompasses the local customs and traditions.  We are who we are because of the setting we in, and our behavior can be influenced by the setting too.  In this case, the fact that the narrator is Italian has a great influence on his behavior and how he views himself.

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.

This influences not only the narrator's attitudes, but his attitude toward Fortunado.  Montresor, the narrator, describes his “friend” Fortunado as a “quack” in most things.  The importance of being a gentleman in this society is one of the reasons that Montresor is able to convince Fortunado to go down into the catacombs with him.  Another reason is the time of year.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend.

The carnival made Fortunado more friendly and more susceptible to influence. The general drunkenness and friendliness, as well as the gentleman's code, allows Montresor to take advantage of Fortunado and get his revenge.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting influence the mood of the story "The Cask of Amontillado"?

You are right in identifying that Poe uses the setting in part to create the mood. The mood in this story is one that is sinister, threatening and disturbing as we move ever further down into the catacombs of Montresor's family home and we move ever closer to the grim revenge that he has planned against Fortunato. It is important to focus on how the description of the setting is used to create and sustain this mood. Consider the following quote:

We continued our route in search of the amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and, descending again, arrived at a deep crypt in which the foulness of the air causes our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.

Note the repetition of the word "descended" - we are walking ever further deeper into the dark catacombs, so much so that we are disorientated and we have no idea of where we are. What is clear is that we have arrived at a crypt, where dead people are buried, and that the air is so foul that even the torches are subdued. Clearly Poe is trying to set the mood for the shocking events that are about to unfold.

I think another key passage that helps create the mood of horror is when Montresor finally shackles Fortunato into the alcove from which he will never leave:

In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist.

What strikes me about this passage is the way that Montresor is able to describe the chains and their location with cool, calm, precision, even while he is planning a most heinous crime and a terrible death. The tone he takes adds to the mood of horror that dominates this excellent but terrifying work of short fiction where the setting is essential to the overall effect.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Cask of Amontillado," who are the direct and indirect characters?

The direct characters in The Cask of Amontillado are Montresor (the first-person narrator) and the ironically-named Fortunato, his inadvertent enemy. No one else appears in the story, but reference is made to several indirect characters.

Luchesi is a man known to both Montresor and Fortunato. He has a reputation as a connoisseur of wine and is therefore a rival to Fortunato in this respect. Fortunato contemptuously dismisses his expertise, but this may be mere bravado. Montresor uses repeated references to Luchesi as a form of reverse psychology to lure Fortunato into the vault.

Montresor's disobedient servants are also mentioned. We do not know how many there are, but the fact that he has several makes us question his claim to be a ruined man. He has expressly told them to stay in the house and is cynically certain that this is the way to ensure their departure.

Lady Fortunato is mentioned by her unfortunate husband. She will be waiting, in company, at the palazzo. This establishes Fortunato's social status as well as the fact that he is married.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Cask of Amontillado," who are the direct and indirect characters?

Montressor and Fortunato are the primary characters. The setup for predator and prey begins in the first line:

"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge."

We learn our villain's name for the first time close to the end, when Fortunato, cries out, "For the love of God, Montressor!"

There are no other characters directly involved; Fortunato and Montressor are completely alone. However, in order to lure Fortunato into the catacombs, Montressor engages in some name dropping, mentioning Luchesi, a wine connoisseur. He tells Fortunato:

"As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn, it is he...".

"Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."

Another indirect reference is also issued from Montressor, who alludes to the greatness of his own family:

"The Montresors," I replied, "were a great and numerous family."

Other indirect characters are the Masons, a secretive, exclusive sect. Fortunato is a member:

He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement - a grotesque one.

You do not comprehend ?" he said.

"Not I," I replied.

"Then you are not of the brotherhood."

"How ?"

"You are not of the masons."

"Yes, yes," I said...

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Cask of Amontillado," who are the direct and indirect characters?

The direct characters in the story are the unreliable narrator Montresor and his arch nemesis, though he doesn't know it, Fortunato. We know the actions, thoughts and feelings, although somewhat skewed by our unreliable narrator of these two characters.

The indirect characters are Luchesi and the servants of Montresor. Luchesi is only mentioned, he has no direct interaction with either character during the story, but he is a known wine connoisseur and Montresor uses his knowledge of wine to bait Fortunato, also a wine connoisseur, to come along and taste the rare amontillado. Montresor's servants are also indirect characters. They are mentioned simply to set the stage that Montresor is very distrusting of people and that his estate will be empty for the night he plans to exact his revenge.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Cask of Amontillado" does follow the plot structure of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Here is a description of each plot element: Exposition often includes the setting, an introduction to the characters, and an inciting incident—something that gets the action going. The rising action is when the problems in the story are revealed. Things are heating up in this section of the plot. The climax is often described as the height of the action. It is a turning point in the action, a point of no return. Everything that happens after the climax will be a direct result of an action or choice that was made during the climax. The falling action is part of that—the events that happen as a result of the climax. And the resolution is how the problem(s) get solved, or how the story wraps up.

  • Exposition—In Poe's story, the exposition includes Montresor confessing that he had put up with Fortunato's nonsense as long as he could, and when Montresor insulted him, he set his sights on revenge. This is the inciting incident in Poe's story. The exposition also describes the setting, which is the time of Carnival in Italy. Carnival is similar to the American "Mardi Gras" (Fat Tuesday) celebrations in New Orleans. They take place just before Ash Wednesday, about forty days before Easter.
  • Rising Action—The rising action in Poe's story occurs when Montresor finds Fortunato at Carnival and convinces him to come inspect a pipe of Amontillado he has received. Amontillado is a type of wine, and Fortunato considers himself a connoisseur. Montresor plays with Fortunato in this section like a cat plays with a mouse, telling him he could ask someone else, Luchesi perhaps, if Fortunato doesn't want to come. Fortunato scoffs at this and agrees to go to Montresor's catacombs to taste the wine. All throughout their descent, Montresor feigns concern for Fortunato's health and tries to convince him to leave the catacombs.
  • Climax—The climax of this story occurs when Montresor chains Fortunato to the wall and begins to layer brick after brick to entomb him.
  • Falling Action—Fortunato sobers up and realizes what is happening. At first, he thinks it's a joke and talks about how they will laugh about it for years. When he realizes the truth, he begins to beg Montresor to stop, crying, "For the Love of God, Montresor!"
  • Resolution—the resolution of this story is very short. It is contained in the quote that follows and ends with the Latin phrase "rest in peace."

"I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

The plot is based on the concept of revenge for some insult (never revealed) to the narrator, Montresor. Fortunado had the grave mistake of somehow insulting Montresor. Montresor plotted his revenge against the unknowing victim for quite some time. He used Fortunado's pride in the knowledge of wines to lure him to his gruesome death, walled up alive in the catacombs of the Montresors. The ironies that appear in the trip to the keg of wine warn the reader of Montresor's warped mind. His false concern for the victim and his use of words with more than one meaning have no effect on the drunken Fortunado however. His disappearance will remain a mystery to all of the townspeople, except for Montresor.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Where and when does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" never clearly states where or when it is set. In paragraph three of the short story, Poe says, "Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. ...Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. " From this we learn that Fortunato was Italian, so we may assume that the story takes place in Italy, but there is no indisputable evidence of that. In the course of the story, the narrator compares the catacombs they are going into to the catacombs of Paris, so while that emphasizes the European influence, it does not necessarily change the setting.

The time of the short story is also unstated in the text. Poe does clearly delineate that the action takes place during carnival season, which is like Mardi Gras. However, we are not given any hints as to which year, other than the reference from the narrator at the end of the story that Fortunato has not been disturbed "for the half of a century..." so the story obviously is intended to be set at least 50 years prior to the telling of the tale. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Where and when does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

“The Cask of Amontillado” takes place in Italy in the evening during carnival time. As the narrator tells us, it happens “one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season...”. This quote also illustrates why the setting is important: the Italian “Carnival” is a time during which anything goes; people may break from the customs and traditions of society, which, of course, Montresor does.

The second place of importance is, of course, the damp catacombs. The atmosphere of the catacombs foreshadows Montresor’s murder of Fortunato. As they move further into the catacombs, Montresor remarks on the presence of niter in the catacombs, a chemical which marks the presence of decomposing matter: “The nitre!...it increases. It hands like moss upon the vaults...The drops of moisture trickle among the bones.” The presence of niter, in addition to actual human remains they find in the catacombs (“We had passed through walls of piled bones...”), create a very macabre atmosphere. To add to the horror of the atmosphere, when Montresor buries Fortunato, he sits on a pile of bones he has moved about in order to create room for Fortunato in the tomb: “The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labors and sat down upon the bones.” The setting is not only in and of itself gruesome, but also highlights Montresor’s sinister nature.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Where is the cask of Amontillado?

There is no cask of Amontillado. Montresor is only using an imaginary cask of imported wine to lure Fortunato into his underground vaults and catacombs. Montresor says several times, "I have my doubts." It is only because he pretends to have doubts about the authenticity of the nonexistent Amontillado that he can ask Fortunato to come with him to sample it. If for any reason Fortunato declined to come to Montresor's palazzo that night, he would undoubtedly question Montresor about it the next day; and Montresor would have to produce a sample of the so-called Amontillado. This is another reason Montresor expresses serious doubts about whether he has bought the true Amontillado or an inferior Spanish sherry. If Montresor failed in springing his trap on the night he encountered Fortunato, he would probably bring him an unlabeled bottle of sherry as a sample. Fortunato would taste it, pronounce it bogus, and that would be the end of that attempt on his life. But Montresor is an extremely patient man, and he would be thinking of some other means to murder his enemy without getting caught. Montresor twice inquires whether Fortunato is expected anywhere that night and feels assured that he is not. First Montresor says, in part, "As you are engaged." Then, since Fortunato does not give him the information he seeks, he says, in part, "I perceive you have an engagement." And this time Fortunato says, "I have no engagement; come." Montresor would prefer that Fortunato should be missing at least overnight, so as to leave a cold trail when an investigation was finally started.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Where is the cask of Amontillado?

The cask of Amontillado,a very special sherry, is located in the family catacombs of Montresor's home; catacombs are tombs or crypts used for the burial of people.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Where is the cask of Amontillado?

It is supposedly in the Catacombs of Montresor's home

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

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. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

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."                                                                                        Henry James, “The Aspern Papers” (1888)

Montresor is a poor man and apparently no longer has a family. He is probably only living in a palazzo with a skeleton staff of servants because the rent is cheap and the big building helps him put on a good "front."

That it is an ancient city is shown by the fact that so many centuries of accumulated human bones are described as the two men wind their way through the catacombs. Montresor did not attach the chains to the granite wall. They had been there for centuries and had been used for the same purpose by feudal lords to punish rebellious subjects.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story is set some time before 1846 (the year it was first published) and quite possibly during the late 18th century. The story is almost certainly set in Italy, although no specific city is mentioned; but it could also take place along the Italian-French border, since Mardi Gras-type carnivals were more common in France at the time. It was not unusual for Poe--a distinctly American writer--to use a European setting.

... Poe believed in using elements from Europe if they were useful artistically, and he believed that international settings helped establish universality... In ‘‘The Cask of Amontillado,’’ therefore, he used a European setting to create his exotic and murky atmosphere... (eNotes, "TCOA," Historical Context) 

We know it takes place during "the supreme madness of the carnival season," and most of the story evolves beneath the home of Montresor in the family catacombs that doubles as a wine cellar. Poe sets his entire tale at night, which adds to its creepy uncertainty and the impending evil that unfolds. Poe seems to deliberately keep the locale unknown to the story's readers, muddling it with Italian words and characters (Fortunato, Luchesi), Latin phrases, a French killer (Montresor), and a Spanish wine.  

If Poe's readers could not be expected to identify the nationality of each element, so much the better for creating the impression that the story happens "in another place and time.’’  (eNotes, "TCOA," Style) 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

Poe leaves the setting ambiguous, but internal clues point toward a Southern location, whether in Europe or America. The names "Montresor" and "Fortunato" are from one of the Latin languages (Spanish, French, or Italian), and so could indicate the city is set in one of those countries. American writers of the time had a fascination with southern Europe (as did the British), and it was frequently used as settings in Romantic and Gothic works.

The fact that there was a carnival also indicates Mardi Gras, usually celebrated in predominantly Catholic locations. New Orleans in the US is an obvious choice for that one, but other Mediterranean locales would also answer.

As with much in this story, Poe leaves much unanswered.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

The story takes place during Carnival/Mardi Gras celebrations (possibly in New Orleans?).  Montresor meets Fortunato as the latter is celebrating, perhaps a little too much.  The alcohol mixed with party atmostphere make Fortunato more easily led in search of this fabulous wine. 

From the life of a party, down to the depths of the earth in the crypts below Montresor's home, the setting symbolizes Fortunato's journey from life without cares to his death at the hands of Montresor.  The creepiness of the the crypts, with cobwebs, loose mortar, etc. juxtapose the gaity of the carnival, providing an even greater contrast lending itself to the eerie mood.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

The specific setting of the story is never actually stated.  The events would appear to have taken place in a European country, but while "Fortunato" and "Luchesi" are Italian names, "Montressor" is most arguably French, and "Amontillado" is a Spanish wine.  Also, Montressor's coat of arms is Scottish in origin, and there are various Latin phrases and references scattered throughout the narrative.  The exact location of the story is ambiguous, leaving the impression only that it is "another place and time".

The exact timing of the story is never stated either, although critics have most often placed it in the eighteenth or nineteenth century.

In a more general sense, the story is set in a city, again, most likely European, and a long time ago, during a season of carnival or celebration.  The majority of the action takes place in the labyrinth-like, dreary catacombs, or series of underground chambers, underneath the palazzo, or estate, of Montressor.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe is set in one of the older and wealthier cities of Italy. Although the name of the city is not specified, Venice is a likely possibility. It is narrated in the first person by Montresor, who appears relatively wealthy, given the size of his palazzo and his having servants and being able to afford fine wines, although he may have been from a formerly wealthy family that has fallen on hard times.

The narrator at the end says that the events took place fifty years ago; the narrator himself appears to be on his death bed confessing his sins before being given last rites. Although no actual dates are given, the mention of "British and Austrian millionaires" suggests late eighteenth or early nineteenth century for a general period. The time of year is Carnival, the celebration that precedes Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent; the specific date of Carnival varies depending on the date of Easter, which changes from year to year.

There are two locations of the main events of the story, outside at Carnival and indoors in the catacombs of Montresor's palazzo. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

Poe intentionally set "The Cask of Amontillado" long ago and far away because it is a perfect-crime story. Editors wouldn't publish a story in which a contemporary American commits a cold-blooded, premeditated murder--and gets away with it! Poe ends his story with these words:

Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

So the crime was committed at least a half-century ago and probably somewhat longer. The victim is dead and his body has never been discovered. The perpetrator is also probably dead by this time. Even if Fortunato's body were found now, there would be no one to charge with his murder, and it might be impossible even to identify him as the long-missing Fortunato. The story seems to be represented as an old letter found among the papers of Montresor after his death and tranlated into English by a Mr. Edgar Allan Poe to be published in an American magazine; or else as having been found among the papers of the now dead recipient of Montresor's confidential letter. 

Since Montresor is writing to a man or woman whom he addresses as "You, who so well know the nature of my soul," there is no need for him to explain where his palazzo is located. Such large, imposing buildings could only have been built in important cities, and the word palazzo immediately suggests Venice. The annual carnival of Venice, which is still celebrated today, was world famous. There are two settings in the story, the crowded streets where Montresor encounters his victim, and the stygian catacombs where he entombs him. 

The effect of the story is produced largely by the underground setting full of dead men's bones. Poe lures the reader down into these dark tunnels just as Montresor lures Fortunato. Through his narrator Montresor, Poe describes the darkness, dampness, bones, dripping water, and fetid odors. The gloomy setting was also essential to the commission of the perfect crime. Fortunato's body had to be completely hidden from the world because he was an important man and there would be an extensive inquiry into his disappearance. 

There are still very few stories, novels, or movies in which a perfect crime is successfully committed, although there are many in which some unscrupulous egotist attempts to commit a perfect murder but gets caught because of having overlooked one important detail. (Poe wrote several such stories himself, including "The Tell-Tale Heart." Readers and moviegoers are intrigued by perfect-crime plots, but most of them do not really want to see a murderer get away with his crime. They can't even be sure that he did get away with it, because there is no statute of limitations on murder, and a "cold case" with be broken years after the event by someone's confession or some newly discovered piece of evidence. Poe had to have Montresor say at the end that he had gotten away with Fortunato's murder for at least fifty years before the reader can feel assured that the crime was really successful.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

The setting is most likely Italy as in the exposition of Poe's story, Montresor describes his enemy, Fortunato, to his audience,

He had a weak point--this Fortunato....He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit....In painting and gemmary,l Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack....

With the name of the narrator and his rather supercilious attitude, the reader can assume that Montresor is French. The catacombs into which Montresor lures Fortunato on the pretext that the man dressed as a harlequin during the "Carnival," or the celebration prior to the six weeks of Lent, give a taste judgment from a vat of Amontillado houses at least some of Montresor's ancestors in its catacombs. For, as the two men traverse the damp corridor that winds and curves, Montresor points to his coat of arms, on which there is a huge golden foot that crushes a rearing serpent against a blue background. It is described with French: "A huge human foot d'or [of gold] and the narrator employs another French word, puncheons, which are large vats.

Further, Montresor's diction may be a clue that he is French as he describes his drawing of the sword as his rapier; earlier, he has drawn a roquelaure, a cloak, over his shoulders. Still, the setting is ambiguous. Perhaps, because Americans such as Poe were intrigued in the 19th century with the grotesque and gothic of southern Europe, the story is set in this geographic area: The Amontillado wine is Spanish, Fortunato and Luchese are clearly Italian, Montresor is French, yet his "catacombs" are probably located in Rome where the early Christians hid. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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

Edgar Allan Poe, in his short story The Cask of Amontillado, provides no overt description of the setting in which his macabre story takes place.  The reader, however, can easily infer the setting from a number of phrases and words Poe uses in telling his story of a vengeful man luring an acquaintance to his doom.  While a discussion of Italian wines does not in and of itself suggest that the story takes place in Italy, it does appear to be the case that a town or city in Italy is in fact the setting.  First, there is this passage by the narrator that strongly implies an Italian setting:

“He prided himself on his connoisseurship 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. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack—but in the matter of old wines he was sincere.”

“Few Italians” combined with the name “Fortunato” and the references to Britain and Austria clearly suggest an Italian setting, as there is definitely a European focus here.  In addition, reference to another acquaintance, “Luchese,” again suggests an Italian locale.  Finally, there is the following passage that again strongly implies that the story takes place in Italy:

“Putting on a mask of black silk, and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo. There were no attendants at home;”

So, we can establish that the city, town or village is in Italy, and we know that Poe lived in the early 19th Century, and that The Cask of Amontillado was published in 1846, so it seems logical to place the time frame towards the middle of that century.  The bulk of the story, though, takes place inside the narrator’s home, which is apparently quite large, and quite old.  We can, again, infer from the information provided in the narration that follows that the home is gothic in nature and was built many years, possibly centuries before the story takes place:

“I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.”

A long winding staircase suggests a large structure with a deep cellar, in which are located a series of catacombs, subterranean burial sites that could date back to the Roman Empire, thereby once again suggesting a very old and very large building.  To conclude, then, The Cask of Amontillado takes place in an Italian village or town, around the early- to mid-19th Century, with the story’s climax taking place in the dungeon of an old and large building. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In what year does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

As noted above, "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe was originally published in 1846. Although Poe himself was a nineteenth-century American writer, he deliberately chose an exotic setting (Italy) remote from his reader's lives in period and place. This use of exotic locale is typical of the "gothic" genre. A story that might seem overwrought or wildly improbable in a domestic setting becomes more credible when it describes a culture alien to its readers. 

We are not given an actual date or even a time period for the story, but we do have the narrator describe himself as wearing a roquelaire (the more modern spelling is roquelaure), a type of long cloak that was worn in the 18th century. Since this is not a realistic story, it doesn't need a precise date, but both the language and atmosphere suggest that this is a work of historical fiction, set in a period before its original audience was born, for the purpose of making the story more exotic. 

Thus the most precise answer we can arrive at is that it is set in the 18th century in the area that was to become Italy (the process of the unification of Italy began with the 1815 Congress of Vienna, after the period in which this story was set.)

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In what year does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

"The Cask of Amontillado" is a short story, written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in the Godey's Lady's Book, 33, (November, 1846) 216-218.  It is a monthly magazine from Philadelphia that published poems and stories by some of the best American writers of the nineteenth century, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The story next appeared in the collection Poe's Works, edited by Rufus W. Griswold, Poe's literary executor, in 1850. By the time Poe wrote this story, he was already nationally known author. Like Poe's other stories, it has remained in print continuously since 1850."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In what year does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

We aren't given the exact year, but we can guess the time period is the eighteenth or nineteenth century based on clues in the story. Montresor's cape, vocabulary, and the torches would seem to indicate one of these centuries. Those who have traced the Montresor family name and the history of Mardi Gras have placed the murder in 1796, according to one person, and in 1787 or 1788 by another expert.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What events preceded the story in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

We don't get many specifics, but we do get some hints about what happened before the story of revenge unfolds. We learn, for example, that Montresor and Fortunato have known each other for a number of years because Montresor tells us he has waited before enacting his revenge. He says that "at length" (meaning, at some point in time) he would be avenged for his wrongs: he was willing to wait for the right moment and the perfect plan.

We also know that Fortunato has "injured" Montresor many times, though we don't know precisely how. We also learn that Fortunato has managed to insult Montresor, which Montresor finds the unforgivable sin.

Other details we know is that both men are interested in good wines, and that Fortunato considers himself a wine expert. Montresor uses Fortunato's fascination with good wines to lure him into the catacombs. The men must have a history together of either enjoying wine or somehow being involved in the wine trade. Montresor says of himself:

I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

Because of their shared past, Fortunato, though surprised, believes Montresor when he says he has an amontillado, a fine sherry.

We know that Montresor continues to be friendly to Fortunato for a long time, even though he inwardly is seething with rage at him. The two also appear to come from a wealthy social class, as they can afford fine wines. Montresor has servants and seems to live in a large house. In short, we can imagine them having a past of belonging to the same social set, sharing a love of wines, and seeming to be friends, except that Fortunato has insulted Montresor in a way Montresor finds unbearable.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the plot of "The Cask of Amontillado" progress?

The plot of "The Cask of Amontillado" unfolds as a flashback. Fifty years have passed since the main events of the story took place. Although we are not certain, it seems that Montresor, the narrator, might be on his deathbed, confessing to his priest, because he addresses his listener as

You, who so well know the nature of my soul...

Montresor begins his narrative by justifying the revenge he is about to take, situating this as a story where we expect something terrible to happen. Then, still using a first-person perspective, he takes us sequentially, step by step, through what happened. It starts at the carnival celebration, where Montresor runs into Fortunato. Montresor sets his trap, saying he has a rare cask of amontillado, a type of sherry, to show Fortunato. Fortunato takes the bait and is anxious to sample this rare wine.

Not sensing any danger, Fortunato willingly follows Montresor into the dark, damp catacombs. Poe has set the story up to use dramatic irony, which is when the reader knows something a character in the story does not. We as readers are anxious, because we know from the first paragraph that Montresor has plotted revenge; but Fortunato is unaware of the perils of the situation unfolding. We don't know what form the revenge will take, however, so we are in suspense.

Poe uses a good deal of sensory imagery to convey how cold, damp, and creepy the catacombs are. It is completely dark in this isolated, below-ground space, where only the torch sheds any light. To make it even creepier, the two go past piles of human bones as they make their way to the vault where Montresor will chain and wall up Fortunato.

By using dramatic irony, increasingly creepy imagery, and gradually bringing Fortunato closer and closer to his doom without letting us know what it is, Poe maximizes the suspense and horror.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask Of Amontillado" change throughout the story?

The mood certainly becomes darker and more menacing as the story progresses. It's true that Montresor is pretty confident in his ability to achieve his enemy's "immolation" at the beginning, and he outlines his requirements for real revenge very explicitly. However, once we see him actually putting his diabolical plans into very real action, the mood becomes a great deal more tense. We learn that Fortunato is quite drunk, his eyes "two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication." This increases our sense that he is relatively helpless—he is proud, certainly, but not harmful, not deserving of being murdered. One metaphor in particular also adds to the predatory and frightening coldness of Montresor: he tells Fortunato to "'observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.'" He is, of course, referring to the niter which has collected there, but his comparison of it to a spider's web would make him the metaphorical spider. He weaves his plot to catch his prey and destroy him, and this also paints Fortunato as more sympathetic and Montresor as more sadistic. This makes the mood a great deal darker and more dangerous and intense.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the three main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

There are only three characters mentioned in Poe's classic short story "The Cask of Amontillado." Montresor is the narrator of the story, who describes to an unidentified person how he murdered his enemy, Fortunato. Montresor vividly describes how he manipulates Fortunato into following him down into his family's catacombs, where he eventually shackles and buries Fortunato alive. Fortunato is the second character in the story, who plays the role of Montresor's unsuspecting enemy. He had apparently insulted Montresor a thousand times and follows Montresor into his family's vaults under the assumption that he will get to taste some rare Amontillado wine. Luchesi is the other character mentioned in the short story, who does not actually appear. Montresor mentions Luchesi's name to incite Fortunato's pride and arrogance by claiming that Luchesi can distinguish whether or not the Amontillado is authentic.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask Of Amontillado" change throughout the story?

As the story opens it is Carnival season in Italy. Montresor capitalizes on the fact that Fortunato has been out drinking to celebrate the season; it is rather easy in these circumstances to lure Fortunato to his palazzo on the pretext of sampling a rare cask of Amontillado wine.

The next setting is the interior of the palazzo, and Montresor escorts Fortunato to the catacombs beneath his home where the wine vaults are located. Along the way, Montresor points out nitre on the walls. The nitre is used as a foreshadowing device, due to the fact that it is an irritant which induces coughing, sneezing, and general breathing problems. The two men stop and share a bottle of Medoc where Montresor offers an ironic toast to Fortunato's "long life."

Because the vaults are extensive the men continue walking deep underground; this enables a conversation about the symbolism of the shield of the Montresors and foreshadows what Montresor will do to Fortunato. The two men pass piles of skeletal remains interspersed with "casks and puncheons" of wine.

The men's journey ends at a recess in a deep crypt. It is described as "in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven." It is the perfect height for a small vertical tomb, which is what it becomes for Fortunato when Montresor successfully chains him inside and seals it.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the initial incident in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In literature, the initial incident is that which generates action in the protagonist. In the short story "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, the unreliable narrator named Montresor mentions that Fortunato, whom he considers his antagonist, has committed a "thousand injuries" against him. Then, Montresor names the initial, or inciting, incident: "...when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." Thus, the initial/inciting incident is the unknown "insult" that Montresor claims to have borne at the hands of Fortunato.

This insult spurs Montresor to find Fortunato among the Carnival revelers and put his plan of revenge into action, a plan which is predicated upon Fortunato's "weak point": He takes excessive pride in his connoisseurship in wine. Montresor capitalizes upon this pride of Fortunato's by flattering him: "I was silly enough to pay full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter." Then, Montresor acts as though he will consult another man because Fortunato is too busy. But Fortunato's pride will not allow anyone else to be conducted to the catacombs of the Montresors where the Amontillado is stored. He tells Montresor "Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from sherry."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are the plot, setting, conflict, climax, theme, point of view, protagonist, and antagonist in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Plot: Montresor, who feels that he has been slighted by his "friend" Fortunato, lures the drunken man back to the catacombs with the promise of showing him his pipe of vintage amontillado. Fortunato accompanies Montresor back to his cellars, where Montresor supplies him with more wine. While there, Montresor begins to pave his inebriated target into a niche in the wall. The conclusion reveals that his body is still stuck behind that wall some fifty years later.

Setting: This story is set during the carnival season in a Western European country—likely Italy. The narrative begins on the streets, where Montresor and Fortunato bump into each other, and ends in the catacombs of Montresor, where the murder takes place.

Conflict: The conflict of the narrative centers around the alleged offenses that Fortunato has committed against Montresor, for which Montresor plans to kill Fortunato. 

Climax: The story climaxes as Montresor finishes paving Fortunato behind the wall while listening to his desperate cries: "For the love of God, Montresor!" 

Theme: Themes present within this story include revenge, vigilantism, and taking justice into one's own hands.

Point of view: This story is told from a first person perspective, as Montresor is narrating the story. 

Protagonist: The protagonist is the narrator of the tale, Montresor. 

Antagonist: The antagonist is the gentleman who slighted him, Fortunato. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In addition to Montresor and Fortunato, the man who keenly desires to exact revenge and the man on whom this revenge will be exacted, respectively, there is potentially another character in this story as well: the person to whom Montresor is telling the story.  Montresor seems to be telling the story of his revenge on Fortunato to someone about fifty years after the events actually took place.  In the second to last sentence of the story, he says, "For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed [Fortunato's bones]."  Therefore, it seems as though Montresor is now an old man reflecting back on this episode from fifty years earlier.  Further, in the second sentence of the story, he refers to his auditor as, "You, who so well know the nature of my soul [...]."  Thus, there is another person in the story as well: this person to whom Montresor is telling his story. Though some might classify this unknown person as the audience, an argument could be made that they are another character.

It is possible that, after all these years, Montresor is getting ready to die and that a priest has come to his death-bed to give him his last rites.  At this time, he might take the opportunity to confess any sins for which he has not atoned.  After all, he claims that this person knows his soul -- which a priest, theoretically, would -- and, in the final line of the poem, Montresor says, "In pace requiescat!" (seemingly about Fortunato) which is exactly what a priest would say to a parishioner as he passes: Rest in peace.  Therefore, it seems plausible that Montresor is telling his story to a clergyman; however, we don't know this for sure.  Either way, there is a third character here: whoever is listening to Montresor tell this story. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In what year does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

The text of "The Cask of Amontillado" does not specify the year in which the story is set. It was published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1846. Montresor, the fictitious narrator, states that Fortunato's bones have not been disturbed for fifty years, so one might guess that the event occurred in the 1790's. Montresor twice mentions that he was wearing a roquelaire, which was a knee-length cloak named after the Duc de Roquelaure, a French nobleman and Marshal of France who died in 1738. Fortunato's murder apparently occurred sometime in the 18th century. The roquelaire was a practical garment. It would have been a useful type of cloak for Montresor to have been wearing, since he could have continued to wear it unencumbered while he was building his stone wall.

Speculative Analysis

It seems most likely that Poe intended the reader to assume that the story was originally written as a letter to a confidant, or confidante, whom Montresor addresses as "You, who so well know the nature of my soul." This letter had been discovered among the papers of the recipient and somehow found its way into the hands of an editor named Edgar Allan Poe, who translated it into English from French or Italian and published it in an American magazine.

Some readers have suggested that the narrative represents a confession to a priest by a man who would have been in his eighties or nineties and possibly on his deathbed. The problem with that interpretation is that there is no indication of a second person being present. A priest or any other interlocutor would be expected to make interjections and ask questions, if it was Poe's intention to present the story as a viva voce confession. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the three main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story tightly focused on the two main characters, Fortunato and Montresor, the narrator of the story. The minor characters function almost as if they were scenery, setting a backdrop for the story rather than being integral parts of the plot. 

Montresor mentions a wine seller Luchresi, mainly to pique Fortunato's interest and inflame his jealousy as a motive to get him into the crypt. Fortunato says twice:

"Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."

This suggests that there is some element of jealousy or enmity in their relationship. 

Montresor also mentions "British and Austrian millionaires", but they do not actually appear in the story. 

As the story is set during Carnival, there are crowds on the streets, but Montresor guides Fortunato away from them and they are not mentioned directly. Montresor also has servants, but he has arranged that they attend the Carnival and so they are not present.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" influence the story?

That's a very interesting question.  I don't believe that the setting influences the events of the story at all.  I believe that the setting influenced the specifics of how the events occurred, but I don't think the setting dictated the overall plot.  

Fortunato insulted Montresor.  Montresor was obviously angered by it.  Montresor plotted to kill Fortunato.  Montresor carried out his plan and has never been caught. 

The above sequence would have happened no matter where or when the story took place.  All that might have changed is the mechanism by which Montresor lured Fortunato to his death.  Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" is a modern novel placed in present times, but it uses the Montresor trust lure twice. The "bad guy" lures the "good guy" to a specific location by tempting him.  The first time is when the good guy is asked to give a speech about a topic he is very passionate about.  The second time is when a different good guy actually invites the bad guy to her place of business. In both cases, the good guy puts his/her trust completely in the bad guy.  

That's exactly what happened in "The Cask of Amontillado."  Fortunato misplaced his trust and paid for it with his life. The specific setting simply gave Poe a working mechanism to lure Fortunato.  Fortunato is a wine guru.  Montresor knows this and happens to have a wine cellar. Montresor tempts Fortunato with an Amontillado. Fortunato has no reason to be suspicious.  The two go into the cellar, which gives Montresor a convenient location to get rid of his enemy.  If Fortunato liked fishing, Montresor would have taken him out on his boat and dumped him overboard. Montresor simply used what he had available to kill and hide Fortunato. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the inciting incident in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Edgar Allan Poe, in his short story The Cask of Amontillado, does not specify the precise nature of the "inciting incident" that drives the story's narrator, Montresor, to seek the demise of his intended victim. The story's opening sentence is purposely vague with respect to this matter:

"THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge."

We can only surmise from this comment that Fortunato has verbally insulted, or criticized to unspecified third parties, the story's narrator. Certainly, Fortunato is presented as a pompous blowhard, thoroughly arrogant, particularly on the subject of wine, the bait employed by Montresor to entrap his nemesis. At one point, continuing to lead the inebriated target of his wrath deeper into his cellar, Montresor begins to explain that another colleague or friend, Luchresi, has attested to the identity of Montresor's cask of wine, prompting Fortunato to sharply respond, "He is an ignoramus." All we know of Fortunato, therefore, is that he is an arrogant ass, given to condescending remarks directed towards others, and it was apparently a history of such comments uttered towards or about Montresor that constituted the "inciting incident."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the three main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

There are two main characters in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," Montresor, the narrator and agent in this tale of revenge, and Fortunato, his victim.

Montresor is an aristocrat who has fallen on difficult times.  Although he has a palazzo and moves in the upper class of the city in which the story takes place, there are several indications that his family is no longer at the top rung of society.  Fortunato, however, is a wealthy aristocrat who now considers himself better than Montresor, most likely because the Montresor family has moved down the social ladder.

At some point in the recent past, Fortunato has insulted Montresor so seriously that Montresor has decided to murder Fortunato in a horrific manner, and the action of the story consists of Montresor luring Fortunato to his fate in the catacombs underneath Montresor's palazzo.

We learn a great deal about Montresor from his own lips because he is narrating the action, and from what we hear, most readers would concluded that Montresor is an exceedingly proud man who has become unbalanced by his desire for revenge for the insult from Fortunato.  Fortunato, on the other hand, is depicted as vain, pompous, and so self-absorbed that he never realizes his danger.  Because the story takes place during Carnival, Fortunato is costumed as a jester or fool, and that is entirely appropriate for his nature.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are the plot, setting, conflict, climax, theme, point of view, protagonist, and antagonist in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

PLOT.  Montresor decides that the time has come for him to enact revenge against the wealthy Fortunato. He lures him into his family's underground catacombs (which also serve as a wine cellar) under the pretense of sampling a rare bottle of Amontillado (a Spanish sherry). But there is no Amontillado. When the two men reach the deepest part of the catacombs, Montresor suddenly chains Fortunato to the floor. He then proceeds to wall up the niche in which Fortunato has been chained, leaving his adversary there to die. Montresor tells the story 50 years in the future--a perfect crime in which the body was never discovered.

SETTING.  In the "supreme madness of the carnival season," probably somewhere in Italy or France. Most of the action takes place in the underground catacombs of the Montresors.

CONFLICT.  Because of the untold "thousand injuries" inflicted by Fortunato upon Montresor, Montresor has decided to kill the man.

CLIMAX.   It comes when Montresor suddenly shackles Fortunato to the floor of the catacombs and begins walling the man up inside.

THEME.  A murderous revenge "with impunity" by Montresor is the main theme. Forgiveness and atonement is a lesser theme.

PROTAGONIST.  Montresor

ANTAGONIST.  Fortunato.

POINT OF VIEW.  First person, with Montresor as the narrator.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask Of Amontillado" change throughout the story?

Even though the first paragraph hints at trouble, the intensity of the mood increases with each paragraph. A wine cellar in the basement was normal, but this wine cellar was below the basement in the catacombs of the Montresors. The spider webs and nitre hanging from the walls added a macabre touch. Montresor used false sympathy, offering to turn back because of Fortunado's cough, to lure Fortunado onward to his doom. When Montresor produced a trowel from his cloak, the poor, drunken Fortunado still did not catch on. A niche in the wall with shackles and bricks with mortar compound still did not penetrate his stupor. Only when Fortunado was shackled to the wall did he begin to catch on. Hoping he was wrong, Fortunado laughed about the splendid joke. Only joke, it was not. The jingling of bells and shackles as Montresor worked allowed the reader to realize the horror of his slow death in the darkness. The final plea "For the love of God" was only mocked by his soon to be murderer.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask Of Amontillado" change throughout the story?

The setting of Poe's gothic story, "The Cask of Amontillado," is ideal for Montesor's dastardly deeds as it progresses with the evil intent of the narrative:

  • Disguise during the Carnival

Fortunato, costumed as a fool in his harlequin, is deceived into coming to Montesor's catacombs where he keeps the Amontillado about which he pretends to desire Fortunato's opinion.  Montesor dissembles his intentions; he feigns concern for Fortunato's health in the cold of the catacombs; he, like the revelers, engages in aberrant behavior, although his differs from what others do.

  • Underground catacombs


Montesor lures Fortunato into dark, dank, subterranean regions to taste his Amontillado.  With the intent of burying his adversary alive, the catacombs are the perfect setting as there are already bones "scattered promiscuously."

  • Arabesque -winding, narrowing, and darkening of catacombs

Poe's setting of the catacombs contain various rooms that narrow and turn, each one more confining and damp.  Like his technique, which he termed arabesque, Poe winds his narrative, returning to the motif of the dampness and cold of the catacombs.  Montesor repeatedly tells Fortunato, "We will turn back," and declaring that he will call upon Luchesi.  When he shows Fortunato the coat of arms and wields the trowel, Fortunato does not comprehend the twistings and turnings of Montesor's devious plot, but moves forward on his own.

  • The macabre setting and actions in the final room


Montesor shackles Fortunato and walls him into a small dark place.  When Fortunato cries, "For the love of God!" Montesor answers mysteriously, "Yes, for the love of God!"  Without explanation to the man, Montesor completes his burial of Fortunato, who himself makes no sound.  Montesor tells his tale fifty years later, after no one has learned his secret.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the setting of "The Cask Of Amontillado" change throughout the story?

As this story goes along, the setting really changes along with the action.  At first, both the setting and the action are pretty light hearted.  The action takes place above ground, in the middle of a carnival.  This is a pretty happy setting.

As we go along, however, the setting gets darker both figuratively and literally.  As we start to really see how dark and evil Montresor's plans are, we also enter a much darker and more foreboding setting.  We go underground into these mysterious catacombs with their piles of bones.

So the setting mirrors the action and helps to emphasize how evil Montresor's action is.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the initial incident in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

I agree with the previous post that the initial incident in the short story, "The Cask of Amontillado," is the offense that Fortunato commited against Montressor. Unfortunately, Montressor never reveals what Fortunato has done to him to cause the vengeful incidents that follow. We only know what the first lines of the story tell us.

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.

It appears that Montressor was unhappy with Fortunato's longtime treatment of him ("The thousand injuries"), but the last straw was the unnamed insult.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the initial incident in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In my opinion, the initial incident in this story is not really even seen in the story.  To me, the initial incident is whatever Fortunato did in the past to Montresor.

The initial incident is the thing that leads to the rising action in the story.  To me, the rising action in this story is the interaction between Montresor and Fortunato as Montresor maneuvers Fortunato into going down into Montresor's wine cellars.

So the initial incident has to be whatever caused this to happen.  In my opinion, that is the conflict between them that is only referred to in this story.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the three main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Luchresi the wine connoisseur is used as the bait to draw in Fortunato, and he should be considered a minor character even though he is not technically present in the story.

Fortunato's wife is referenced, but she too is not actually physically present in the story.

There are also some household servants who are referenced.

Posted on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the three main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Poe's story features three characters who are named: Montresor, Fortunato, and Luchesi. Montresor is the narrator of the story, telling the tale from the first-person point of view. Fortunato is the victim of Montresor's diabolical revenge. Luchesi is mentioned in the story, but he never actually appears. Montresor uses his name as a threat to keep Fortunato moving toward his impending death. He tells Fortunato that he will let Luchesi taste the Amontillado if Fortunato is not interested in trying it himself.

There is another "character" in the story, but this one is not even named or identified. Who is the person to whom Montresor confesses? A friend? A priest? A physician? Nobody knows for sure, but many have tried to figure out this mystery.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the round and dynamic characters in The Cask of Amontillado?

When the wall is almost finished, Montresor shows a moment of concern for Fortunato, when the prisoner does not answer to the call of his name. Montresor throws the torch over the wall. Is he having second thoughts? Has he learned something from this conflict? At this moment Montresor seems to venture near the line of becoming a dynamic character, but then he returns to his wall-building and exacts his revenge, staying firmly in the realm of being a static character. As for being round or flat, we learn very little about either character, though a bit more about Fortunato. He is seen as a Carnival reveler, but we also learn that he is a wine afficionado and seems to have Montresor's respect in that regard. So, we do learn a little about who he is outside of what is happening to him in the story. As for Montresor's character, it seems as flat as can be: he is a person relaying the story of an incident that happened to him many years ago - as if it were yesterday. His character seems very flat.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The main characters of “The Cask of Amontillado” are Montresor and Fortunato. Montresor is the narrator and a wealthy man intent on receiving revenge on Fortunato who is both a friend sworn enemy of Montresor's. He has planned to ‘‘punish with impunity.

Fortunato has committed a "thousand injuries’’ and a final "insult," to Montresor, but no details are given. Fortunato is comfortable in Montresor's company, and has no clue of the deadly plan awaiting him at the hands of the man he considers a friend. Fortunato, is a respected and feared man and a proud connoisseur of fine wine, but he is also is singleminded . Unfortunately, he also drinks too much on the night we read about, which actually turns out to be his downfall.

Montresor is a cold and calculating man, revealed perfectly as he tells the story fifty years later, revealing no regret for his actions, and no real pleasure in them. He simply demonstrates no feeling whatsoever, making him seem a highly immoral character.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the main characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The main characters are Montressor and Fortunato.  Montressor holds an undisclosed grudge against Fortunato and lures him to his death, walling him up in the caverns of his wine cellar.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the detailed setting of the actual murder in The Cask of Amontillado?

The murder takes place deep within the catacombs, where the narrator lures the unsuspecting Fortunato, by telling his nemesis (we never know exactly what Fortunato has done to so enrage the narrator) that he has a bottle of rare and  allegedly prized wine. 

For me, the creepiness begins immediately, but as the narrator leads his victim further into the earth, one has to wonder why Fortunato isn't similarly distressed, even if he is drunk.  Here as an excerpt (you can access the full text by following the link below):

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner.

Later, as Fortunato is sealed in his tomb, the narrator describes the panic and horror of his prey: 

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated - I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess : but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall. I replied to the yells of him who clamored. I re-echoed - I aided - I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamorer grew still.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are all the characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato is the "victim" in the story. He is led down to the cellar by Montressor. Montressor kills Fortunato by chaining him to a wall in the cellar and then building a wall, literally bricking him up in the building. Luchesi is mentioned several times, as a lure to get Fortunato down into the cellar, however, Luchesi never actually appears to the reader.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are all the characters in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

For a more complete analysis of the characters, please follow the link at eNotes below. But here is a brief run-down:

Fortunato: Fortunato is an Italian friend of Montresor's, and his sworn enemy, whom Montresor has planned to ‘‘punish with impunity.

Luchesi: Luchesi is an acquaintance of Montresor's and Fortunato's, and another wine expert. He never appears in the story, but Montresor keeps Fortunato on the trail of the Amontillado by threatening to allow Luchesi to sample it first if Fortunato is not interested.

Montresor: Montresor is the "I" who narrates the story, telling an unseen listener or reader about his killing of Fortunato fifty years before.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on