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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Falling Action, Resolution, and Denouement in "The Cask of Amontillado"

Summary:

In "The Cask of Amontillado," the falling action occurs when Montresor finishes walling up Fortunato in the catacombs. The resolution is Montresor's successful revenge, as he reveals that no one has disturbed the wall for fifty years. The denouement, or final outcome, is Montresor's confession, indicating his guilt and the lasting impact of his actions.

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What are the falling action and resolution in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The falling action and resolution are the final two pieces of a story's dramatic structure, usually following closely after the climax. The falling action begins the process of wrapping up any loose ends that may still exist at the finale of a story, and it is usually a more subdued section than the more-exciting climax that precedes it. The resolution (or denouement) is the final part of a story's structure in which

Conflicts are resolved, creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis, or release of tension and anxiety, for the reader.  (Wikipedia, Dramatic Structure) 

In "The Cask of Amontillado," the climax comes when Montresor surprises Fortunato, staples him to the floor, and procedes to wall the man up. The falling action occurs after Fortunato is securely chained and Montresor painstakingly completes the final tiers of the wall. It includes the maniacal laughter by Fortunato and the two men's final responses. The resolution can be found in the final sentences when the narrator reveals to the reader that he has gotten away with the murder: That Fortunato's remains were never found and that

For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

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What is the outcome and the resolution in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

They are not entirely different. The resolution refers to that point when the conflict within the story is resolved. This happens in stages in "The Cask of Amontillado." The main conflict involves the insult Montressor feels he has endured from Fortunato. This conflict is resolved(for the most) when we realize Montressor's plan for revenge and the details of how it will be accomplished, i.e. chaining him to the wall and beginning to brick him in. The outcome of the story is the death of Fortunato, which never occurs in the story and we can only infer as readers. This would explain how they are different. One occurs within the story, the other does not.

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What are the falling action and resolution in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

First it is important to determine what the prime conflict is in "The Cask of Amontillado". Montresor believes that Fortunato has caused him a "thousand injuries," and he has suffered as long as possible until he feels that Fortunato "venture[s] upon insult." This source of tension drives the plot of the story, which primarily centers around Montresor's efforts to rid himself of Fortunato and thereby relieve himself of the constant "insults."

The conflict is resolved, therefore, when it is clear that Fortunato will die. Fortunato begs for his life near the end, screaming, "For the love of God, Montresor!" Montresor repeats this phrase, not in a pleading tone but in absolute condemnation: "Yes ... for the love of God." It is at this point that his commitment to his plan is certain; Fortunato will die. The conflict will be resolved.

Even fifty years later, Montresor feels relief and peace that he was able to finally rid himself from this source of conflict.

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What are the falling action, resolution, and denouement in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

A basic plot analysis includes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Gustav Freytag, a nineteenth-century German novelist, added to this basic diagram, creating what is known as Freytag's pyramid. Freytag's pyramid adds an inciting incident, which is something that begins the action, and denouement. Denouement is a French word which means to untie. In Freytag's pyramid, the denouement is when any secrets are revealed after the main conflict is solved. Questions can be answered in the denouement, and mysteries, if there are any, are revealed. These are solved by the characters, or sometimes explained by the author. The climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement are described below for Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Cask of Amontillado." 

1. Climax: The climax, or moment of greatest tension, is the event that the rising action has led up to. In this story, the inciting event is an unknown insult that Fortunato has made toward Montresor. The rising action is Montresor's plot of revenge against Fortunato. The climax of the story occurs when Montresor, having lured the inebriated Fortunato into his catacombs, chains him inside. Here is the quote:

"In niche, and finding 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. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess."

2. Falling Action refers to the events that occur after the climax. In this story, the falling action includes Montresor using brick and mortar to wall Fortunato into the niche, as well as his taunts as Fortunato's panic increases. 

3. Resolution The resolution comes when Montresor has laid the last brick and thus entombed Fortunato. Here is the quote:

"No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones."

4. Denouement The denouement of "The Cask of Amontillado is this: "For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!" It is in the denouement that we learn that this murder took place fifty years ago and that Montresor has literally gotten away with murder.  

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What are the falling action, resolution, and denouement in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The falling action of a story consists of the events that happen after the climax, but before the resolution.  In "The Cask of Amontillado," the climax of the story occurs when Montresor chains Fortunato to the wall of the catacombs.  Fortunato's entrapment is the event that the story has been leading up to until this point (rising action); now, the story begins to lead downhill, toward the ending (falling action).

After Fortunato is chained and Montresor begins to brick his "friend" in.  By the time Montresor is ready to position the last brick, which will seal Fortunato's fate, Fortunato becomes frantic and desperate, then, finally, unresponsive.  Montresor completes his masonry work and leaves.

The terms "resolution" and "denoument" both refer to the ending of a story, in which an insight or change is made evident to the reader.  In the case of "The Cask of Amontillado," the resolution is revealed in the last few sentences:

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

The resolution of this story comes when the reader realizes that Fortunato's murder took place fifty years ago.  He was already dead as Montresor told his tale.

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