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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Describe Fortunato's character in "The Cask of Amontillado."

Quick answer:

Fortunato is a bon viveur, a man who likes good wine and good company. He's also something of a fool, and this quality of his, combined with his love of wine, leads to his grisly death.

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Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado" comes across as a fun guy to be with, someone most people would definitely invite to a party. A lover of good wine and good company, and with an enhanced sense of fun, Fortunato is the kind of guy that people instinctively like to be around, even if he does give the impression that he's a bit of a fool.

If we believe Montresor, however, then there's a much more unpleasant side to Fortunato. According to Montresor, Fortunato has done him a "thousand injuries." He doesn't specify exactly what these alleged injuries are supposed to have been, but they must be serious if they've incited Montresor to kill Fortunato in such a horrible way, by walling him up alive in the catacombs.

Montresor plays upon those aspects of Fortunato's character that Fortunato presents to the world in order to get him down to the catacombs, which will be his final resting place. Montresor knows that Fortunato, as a bon viveur, will not be able to resist a drop of three of the finest Amontillado wine. He also knows that Fortunato is a bit of a fool and so can quite easily be tricked into walking straight into a deadly trap.

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Fortunato is portrayed as a popular, outgoing Italian man who is an epicure and views himself as a connoisseur of fine wine. Fortunato is also a wealthy man and purchases large quantities of expensive wine when the opportunity presents itself, which is revealed by his desire to taste and confirm Montresor's Amontillado. Judging by his jester costume and intoxicated condition, Fortunato is a fun-loving, carefree man. When Montresor approaches him, Fortunato accosts him with "excessive warmth." His behavior suggests he is a friendly, amicable individual. However, Montresor's accusation of suffering a "thousand injuries" at the hands of Fortunato portrays Fortunato in a negative light. It is important to note that Montresor is an unreliable narrator and that the audience should not take his word at face value. That being said, it's possible that Fortunato has indeed done something awful to motivate Montresor to take his life.

Montresor also mentions that Fortunato is a "man to be respected and even feared" and calls him "rich, respected, admired, beloved." Clearly, Fortunato is a successful, well-known man in the city. Despite his positive reputation and upper-class status, Fortunato is extremely vain and easily deceived. Montresor knows exactly how to get under his skin and brings up Luchesi several times. Fortunato scoffs at the mention of Luchesi's name and calls the man an "ignoramus." Fortunato's insult reveals his slanderous nature and suggests that Montresor's complaints about Fortunato may have some validity. The fact that Fortunato is unaware of Montresor's malevolent intentions and does not recognize that he is in immediate danger depicts him as a fool, which is emphasized by his jester costume.

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Fortunato appears to be an extreme extrovert. He likes to get drunk. He has a lot of money and evidently enjoys spending it on his own enjoyment. He is wearing a jester's costume when Montresor encounters him on the street. People generally choose costumes that represent what they think of themselves, how they would like others to perceive them, and/or what they would like to be. Fortunato would like to be thought of as a very funny fellow, but if he has really injured Montresor a thousand times, then he is the kind of "funny fellow" who likes to inflict pain. The court jesters of old were often cruel in their jests because they had the protection of a powerful patron. The grave digger in Hamlet says that Yorick, the king's jester, poured a bottle of wine over his head one time. That may have amused the king and his guests, but the victim would not have been amused. King Lear's fool is constantly saying hurtful truths to Lear and to others. Many of the "injuries" Montresor suffered from Fortunato may have been painful digs that hurt his pride. Montresor describes Fortunato as "a man to be respected and even feared."

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All we know of Fortunato we learn through the very biased narrator, Montresor; therefore, everything must be taken in terms of the source from which it is learned.  We know that Fortunato is Italian and a lover and connoisseur of fine wine, which Montresor uses to lure him into the catacombs and the trap he has laid.  Fortunato is also referred to as a respected and feared man, which may lead the reader to the conclusion that the wrongs done to Montresor may have resulted from this power.  Little else is known of Fortunato, as there is little else that Montresor deems important to share with the reader.

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According to our unreliable narrator Montressor, Fortunato is a man who has inflicted, "a thousand injuries" upon him. Montressor never tells us exactly what he feel these injuries were, only that Montressor is trying to cope with it. Fortunato seems friendly because he believes that he and Montressor are friends. We also get the sense that he is comical and likes to party because he dresses up like a jester which is in stark contrast to Montressor who dresses like death to mark the occasion of his "perfect murder". Fortunato is also, as Montressor admits to us, a real connoisseur of wine. Fortunato is arrogant about his wine tasting abilities, which is what leads him into the snare that kills him (if Montressor is telling the truth about the incident). It seems that Fortunato truly has no idea what he has done because he is absolutely shocked when he realizes what is happening.

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," what is your general impression of Fortunato?

Montresor is immediately depicted as an unreliable narrator when he begins the story with a hyperbole by mentioning that Fortunato has caused him a "thousand injuries." An insightful reader can recognize that Montresor is clearly exaggerating but should also acknowledge that Fortunato is capable of offending people. In the third paragraph, Montresor provides more insight into Fortunato's character by describing him as a respected and feared man among his peers. Montresor also mentions that Fortunato's weak point is his pride regarding his connoisseurship of wine. At this point in the story, the reader perceives Fortunato as a generally confident man, who is prideful and capable of acting arrogant. His love of wine also depicts his carefree personality and upper-class status.

When Montresor initially meets Fortunato during the festivities, he is intoxicated and greets Montresor with "excessive warmth." Fortunato's reaction to Montresor's comments regarding the Amontillado wine and his thoughts on consulting Luchresi depict Fortunato as a prideful, insensitive individual. He immediately insults Luchresi and agrees to follow Montresor to his palazzo to demonstrate his expertise in identifying wines. Overall, Fortunato is depicted as a proud man, who is rather insensitive and controlling. He fails to recognize Montresor's true motives, openly insults Luchresi, and naively follows his enemy into the catacombs under the presumption that he will try an extremely rare wine.

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," what is your general impression of Fortunato?

You have asked a really interesting question for a number of reasons. Firstly, remember the point of view of this excellent short story. We see everything from the perspective of Montresor, whom astute readers will realise may not be the most reliable of narrators. This therefore might cause us to doubt some of what Montresor tells us about Fortunato, especially the first paragraph, when Montresor protests how much Fortunato has wronged him:

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

It is hardly likely that Fortunato, if he had insulted Montresor so badly, could be so naive about trusting himself into Montresor's hands and delving deep into the Montresor catacombs with only his enemy for a companion.

However, apart from these debatable facts, we do know that Fortunato is a wine connoisseur:

He had a weak point - this Fortunato - although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.

This of course, as the narrator observes, is his Achilles heel, and is used ruthlessly by Montresor to tempt his victim down into the catacombs and to meet his revenge. The cask of Amontillado of the title is what Montresor pretends he has brought and wants Fortunato to sample for him to test its worth. Note how Montresor tempts Fortunato to sample the wine for him by saying that he is going to another Italian noble to test it for him, Luchesi:

"As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If anyone has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me -"

This of course plays with the pride of Fortunato who considers himself an expert in wines such as Amontillado, and thus the trap is sprung and Fortunato is led captive to his fate by his one weakness - his knowledge of wine.

Note that Fortunato apart from this weakness is described as a "man to be respected and even feared". This description makes Montresor all the more remarkable for his ability to detect his enemy's weakness and plot how he can use it to bring about his downfall.

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According to Montresor, what type of person is Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Montresor describes his enemy as a well-respected individual who is also feared by his peers. According to Montresor, Fortunato is a quack when it comes to painting and gemmary. Fortunato is also described as a proud wine connoisseur, which is why he jumps at the chance to taste the extremely rare Amontillado wine. While Montresor does not give explicit details, the audience is aware that Fortunato has caused his enemy "a thousand injuries" and has insulted him in some way. Judging from Fortunato's actions, he is a rather arrogant, self-centered man, who is naive and confident. He is completely unaware of the fact that Montresor plans on murdering him, and he freely hurls insults at Luchresi when Montresor mentions that he may be able to identify whether or not the Amontillado is authentic. Fortunato is an unsuspecting victim, who follows Montresor into his family's catacombs, where he is buried alive.

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According to Montresor, what type of person is Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

According to Montresor, Fortunato is a man who has caused him a "thousand injuries" and who has wronged him numerous times.  He never details, though, what Fortunato has supposedly done to him.  We do know that Fortunato is a powerful man who is respected and also feared.  He is competitive and always wants to be first in everything he does, so he is foolish when he wants to rush to the catacombs to be the first to taste the Amontillado. His pride and his single-mindedness helped contribute to his death.

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How would one describe Fortunato's character in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato is a rich and respected man who is proud of his knowledge of fine wine. This pride is what gets him into trouble. He seems to be rather insensitive because Montresor tells us that Fortunato has injured him "a thousand times" and yet Fortunato seems to have no idea that he has hurt his friend. His pride, coupled with his overindulgence of wine, leads to his death as he allows his friend to lead him further and further into the catacombs. Despite the fact that he is coughing and must have some kind of cold, Montresor is able to appeal to Fortunato's pride by constantly referring to Luchesi. By the time Fortunato realizes he is in trouble, it is too late. Montresor has changed him to a wall and no amount of pleading will convince his friend to release him.

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What are the three main characteristics of Fortunato from "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato appropriately wears the harlequin for the Carnival in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado."  For, he is foolishly deluded, egotistical, and dull. 

DELUDED

Fortunato is easily tricked by Montesor into coming to taste the Amontillado, priding himself that he is a connoisseur of wine.  Montesor describes him, "Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack."

He refuses to turn back because of his cough, saying, "...the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me."

EGOTISTICAL

When Montesor suggests that Fortunato not expose himself to the cold by going into his vaults and that he will call upon Luchesi to taste the wine, Fortunato cannot bear the idea that another might be able to boast of having tasted a great Amontillado.  So, he insists that Montesor take him: 

Let us go, nevertheless.  The cold is merely nothing.  Amontillado!....And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish sherry from Amontillado.

 When Montesor again mentions Luchesi's being able to go rather than Fortunato who has a cough, the latter refuses to allow anyone else to come,

"Enough...the cough is a mere nothing....

As they reach the deep recess, Montesor continues to bait Fortunato's ego, saying he will call upon Luchesi, Fortunato interrupts him,  "He is an ignoramus."

DULL

When Montesor displays his coat of arms that has a motto which reads, "No one assails me with impunity," Fortunato does not understand its significance.  Likewise, as Montesor creates a pun upon Fortunato's question about being a mason by swinging a trowel in the air, the dim-witted Fortunato does not comprehend. 

With dramatic irony, Fortunato dully dismisses the idea of Luchesi's taking his place and steps forward into the deep recess.  As Montesor throws the links of a chain around his waist and padlocks it, Fortunato is "too much astounded to resist," and then laughs, believing Montesor's actions a joke--at least, according to Montesor. 

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What are the three main characteristics of Fortunato from "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunado has a weakness, his vanity, when it comes to his belief that he is a connoisseur of fine wines. Because he is drunk, he is oblivious to the warning signs around him; the warnings that he will not return from the catacombs.  He seems to be unaware that comments he has made to the Montresor in the past have offended him greatly. So, I would say that he is not very sensitive when dealing with other people. His desire to sample and judge the wine before his competitor Luchesi shows arrogance.  He has a trusting nature, perhaps brought on by the festivities and his overindulgence in drink. His trusting nature leads him deep underground beyond where wine would be kept.

All in all, I would describe him as a weak character in terms of dealing with others.

 

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What is Fortunato's role in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Dressed appropriately as a jester (or fool) in his gaudy carnival costume, Fortunato plays the part of unwitting victim in Poe's classic story of revenge. Fortunato has at some point in time insulted his friend Montressor, who has cunningly planned to take revenge in a most severe manner. Unable to resist Montressor's offer of a rare bottle of amontillado--a dry Spanish sherry--Fortunato willingly follows Montressor deep into the family catacombs where he is left to die a lonely death among the bones of his killer's ancestors. Fortunato's fate is to pay the ultimate price for his unnamed slight against Montressor.

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What is Fortunato's role in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato is the unfortunate victim of the narrator, Montresor. We never find out any specifics of what Fortunato has supposedly done to Montresor, but we do know that Montresor hates him and plans to take terrible revenge on him.

Fortunato does not exhibit any fear of Montresor while they are together, prior to the final horrible scene. One thing we do know about Fortunato is that he is a wine connoisseur; this characteristic is how Montresor is able to lure Fortunato into the catacombs, by telling him that they will sample a choice Amontillado wine. 

 

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