illustration of Fortunato standing in motley behind a mostly completed brick wall with a skull superimposed on the wall where his face should be

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe

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Are Montresor and Fortunato friends in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Quick answer:

Montresor and Fortunato are not truly friends in "The Cask of Amontillado." While Montresor initially behaves as though he and Fortunato are friendly acquaintances, he privately regards Fortunato as a deadly enemy.

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If Montresor is Fortunato's friend, one shudders to think what Fortunato's enemies might do to him. Fortunato, however, appears to think that the two of them are friends, in a rather casual, desultory fashion, and he clearly has no reservations about following Montresor into his family vault.

The word "friend" is, of course, one of the least precise in the English language. It can describe the relationship of Jonathan and David in the Bible or that of two people who move in the same social circles but barely know each other. The evidence in the story suggests that the relations between Fortunato and Montresor are approximately as follows.

The two families have moved in the same society for generations. Both were once rich and powerful, but the Montresor family has declined, losing much of its wealth and influence, while that of Fortunato, as his name suggests, has prospered. The two men are outwardly friendly, as their fathers and grandfathers were, but because Fortunato is so much richer, Montresor has detected a certain condescension in the other man's manner, which he resents. The "thousand injuries" to which Montresor refers at the beginning of the story may be no more than glancing references on Fortunato's part to purchases and investments. This is why Fortunato has no idea that their relations are not perfectly amicable.

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