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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Fortunato's character and fate in "The Cask of Amontillado."

Summary:

Fortunato is portrayed as a prideful and gullible character whose arrogance leads to his demise. His trust in Montresor and his pride in his wine connoisseurship blind him to the dangers ahead, ultimately resulting in his tragic fate of being buried alive behind a brick wall in Montresor's catacombs.

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What caused Fortunato's fate in The Cask of Amontillado?

The narrator in "The Cask of Amontillado" is unreliable, narrating his tale in great (and rather frenzied) detail fifty years after the act takes place. He opens the story with these lines:

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

Fortunato meets his fate, then, through some unnamed "injuries" that he has seemingly inflicted upon Montresor—or at least, Montresor perceives it that way. At some point, these injuries became personal, insulting. When Fortunato crossed this line, Montresor decided that he must kill him.

Has Fortunato truly insulted him? Has our unreliable narrator imagined the insult? Does the insult warrant death? Does the insult even matter? Poe doesn't write these details into the story, leaving readers to conclude whether the death Fortunato meets is a deserved one. Montresor takes this man, who is "respected and even feared," uses his weak point of a pride in wine connoisseurship, and lures him to his death for whatever perceived crimes he has committed against our narrator.

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How is Fortunato considered fortunate in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Author Edgar Allan Poe no doubt selected the name of this character carefully for his short story, "The Cask of Amontillado." It is used primarily for its ironic intent--Fortunato's journey into the catacombs with Montresor does not end in good fortune nor in a fortunate manner. However, up until this time, Fortunato has lived a good life. A wealthy man, Fortunato obviously has reached a higher social status than Montresor. He comes from an old family, lives in a palazzo himself with the Lady Fortunato, and

... he was a man to be respected and even feared.

Montresor understands this, and it could be part of his desire for revenge.

"You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed."

Fortunato seems incredulous when Montresor pretends to be a Mason, a secret fraternal society whose members are only of the highest status. It seems that Montresor is not worthy of such a position.

"You? Impossible!"

Fortunato forgets Montresor's coat-of-arms, perhaps because its significance is inconsequential to a man so powerful and loved. Fortunato fails to recognize that Montresor's repeated addresses to him as "my friend" are only a ruse, and his lofty status in the community may have "dulled his senses" to the recognition that he had any enemies.

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What is the meaning of Fortunato's name in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

"Fortunato" is an Italian derivation of the Roman proper name "Fortunatus." It refers to a Latin adjective which means "blest" or "fortunate." It is referenced in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 16:17, in which Fortunatus is one of the Seventy Disciples and serves as an ambassador to the Corinthian church. St. Paul writes in this verse:

I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.

"Fortunatus," thus, went on to become relatively popular in the Catholic tradition, with many saints, martyrs, and clergymen taking up the name. This--as the other educators have pointed out--is deeply ironic given Fortunato's indulgent behavior throughout the story. Fortunato does not appear to possess the graces and qualities of a man of faith; rather, he seems to gratify his every whim and desire, no matter how base or low--drinking, gossiping, cavorting, and partying his way through life. The way in which he dies--being paved behind a wall while drunk--is hardly beatific or holy. He does not perish as a martyr, but rather as a fool.

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What is the meaning of Fortunato's name in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The name Fortunato is a continuation of the Late Latin personal name Fortunatus which derives from the Latin verb fortunatus meaning prosperous, lucky, and happy. As was mentioned in the previous post, several Catholic saints and martyrs were named Fortunato. Ironically, the character Fortunato in the short story "The Cask of Amontillado" does not act like a saint or martyr, and is not lucky at all. Montresor gets his revenge on Fortunato by leading him through his family's catacombs to try the very rare Amontillado wine. Fortunato is deceived into believing that Montesor has good intentions, when in fact, Montresor wishes to murder Fortunato by burying him alive. Poe cleverly gives a name which means "lucky" to a very "unlucky" person.

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What is the meaning of Fortunato's name in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In the short story "The Cask of Amontillado" Fortunato is the character that is taken down into the wine cellar and sealed up in the stone wall to die. This name is a very clever play on a name and creates irony in the story because the name Fortunato is "Italian, Spanish and Portuguese form of the Late Latin name Fortunatus meaning "fortunate, blessed, happy". This was the name of several early saints and martyrs." How ironic that Fortuanto is the character that dies.

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Your question might concern what may have happened to Fortunato after Montresor walled him up in the niche and left him there. Naturally Fortunato would have died, but some writers have assumed that he died immediately of suffocation while others have assumed that he died of starvation. I believe it was Poe's intention to have the reader believe that Montresor's revenge included a long, lingering death for his victim. There was undoubtedly plenty of water, since the text specifies that there is water dripping everywhere and that they are in fact under a river. So poor Fortunato could have quenched his thirst by licking water off the rock wall to which he was chained. Poe also specifies that there is some air down there.

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 also makes repeated references to the abundance of nitre. This substance contains a large quantity of oxygen. So it would seem that Fortunato could get water and some air in his confinement. The rough stone wall constructed by Montresor may contain enough chinks to allow the passage of some of the foul air from the other side. Montresor does not say so, but he might have left a few air holes in his wall.

So it would seem that Fortunato died of starvation while standing up. Perhaps in time his skeleton would have slipped through the chain and crumpled to the ground in the rags of his jester's costume. Montresor would have wanted his victim to suffer a long, lingering death. At the end, Montresor receives no answers from Fortunato, but that doesn't necessarily mean the man is already dead. That is unlikely. He has probably fainted or even refusing to answer.

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato, more than a little intoxicated and dressed as a jester, is led from a party by Montresor, who feels that he has been wronged by Fortunato in countless ways, into his family catacombs with the pretense of showing off a cask of precious Amontillado, a rare sherry. Fortunato eagerly follows only to be chained to a niche in the wall where he watches as Montresor builds a brick wall to enclose him inside where he will be left to die with no hope of survival or rescue. For a detailed summary, check the link below.

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Montresor wants to kill a man but naturally doesn't want to be exposed and punished for murder and doesn't even want to be a suspect. He decides that the only way to commit a murder with impunity would be to make the victim disappear without a trace. The chains attached to the granite wall of the catacombs under his palazzo have probably been there for centuries. Montresor must have discovered them while exploring the catacombs by torchlight. No doubt the chains had been used by feudal lords to execute rebellious subjects. Montresor realized that he could murder Fortunato in the same way if he could get him underground without being seen in his company on the night of his disappearance. This inspired Montresor to invent the cask of imaginary Amontillado. It wasn't sufficient to invite Fortunato to come to his palazzo to sample it as a favor to a friend. Montresor embellished his falsehood with the statement that he had bought a big amount at a bargain price. Both Fortunato and Montresor refer to the cask as a "pipe," which is a wine-barrel containing 126 gallons. Fortunato does not seem like a sherry drinker. Sherry is a sipping wine, and Fortunato is characterized as a glutton and a guzzler. Fortunato is interested in the "bargain" aspect of the purchase. The fact that he refrains from asking Montresor where he bought it and how much he paid for it suggests that Fortunato is planning to sample the wine and judge it to be ordinary sherry. Montresor is in a big hurry to get an opinion on his Amontillado that night, either from Fortunato or from Luchesi. This suggests that Montresor plans to buy more if he can be assured that it is genuine. Montresor is a poor man, as he himself acknowledges. He is not the kind of man who would want 126 gallons of sherry for personal consumption, and he certainly would not want to buy additional casks for that purpose. Fortunato--as Montresor knows and expected--would put Montresor off by disparaging the wine and then rush off to find the cargo, apparently newly arrived by ship from Barcelona, and buy it all up for himself. An excellent jest! This is probably an example of the kinds of injuries that have made Montresor decide to kill him. So Montresor uses Fortunato's greed and duplicity to lure him into the catacombs and chain him to the granite wall. The fact that his murder plot was completely successful is shown in the last words of the tale:

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

Fortunato has turned into a skeleton dressed in the rags of a jester's costume. Montresor no longer has any reason to hate him. When he concludes with "In pace requiescat" ("Rest in peace") he means it sincerely. He has been thoroughly cleansed of his hatred and can now feel pity for his victim

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Montresor walls up Fortunado in the catacombs under the city by sticking him in a crevice and bricking him in.

Montresor is upset because of some perceived injury Fortunado has done him.  He tricks him by saying he needs him to look at a rare cask of wine in the catacombs, tunnels under the city.  Then he brings him deeper and deeper, and since the man is drunk he is not aware of what is happening until it is too late.

…I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken.  Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.

Fortunado screams, but they are deep below the city and no one can hear him.  Montresor has plenty of time to wall him in, and eventually he will suffocate to death and no one will ever know what happened to him or suspect Montresor.  Montresor comments that it is important that he commit his act of revenge without getting caught.  This is why it is important to commit the perfect crime.

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato prides himself on being a connoisseur of wines. He also believes that he is still good friends with Montresor. Montresor lets readers know from the beginning of the story that their friendship is tenuous at best and that he is planning on getting revenge against Fortunato. Montresor seeks out Fortunato during the carnival celebration and lets it be known that he has miraculously obtained a full pipe of Amontillado sherry. Montresor states that he isn't convinced it is real, and Fortunato excitedly volunteers his palate and tells Montresor to lead the way to the wine vaults.

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

This is all part of Montresor's plan, so he begins taking Fortunato to his home. Fortunato believes that he is going to get to taste an amazing wine when, in reality, he is being led to his death.

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Montresor, Fortunato's friend, leads him down into his family crypt with the promise of showing Fortunato a pipe of a liquor called Amontillado. It is in the vaults that Fortunato meets his demise. Montresor claims that he doubts the liquor really is Amontillado, and he wants Fortunato to pass judgment on it, as Fortunato is a wine connoisseur. The two men descend into Montresor's vault, and Fortunto begins to cough. Montresor tells Fortunato that they must turn back, but Fortunato refuses. The friends share some wine, and they finally arrive, bearing torches, at a deep crypt. They notice a gap within the wall of human remains (where people were buried), and they enter this gap. Montresor fetters Fortunato to the granite walls within the crypt, and Montresor walls up the gap in the crypt with mortar and stone, capturing Fortunato inside. Though Fortunato calls to be released, Montresor seals him in the crypt, and, at the end of the story, says that no one has disturbed Fortunato's resting place for half a century. 

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Fortunato offended Montresor numerous times in the past, and Montresor seeks revenge by burying him alive. After running into Fortunato, who had been drinking excessive amounts of wine throughout the night, Montresor invites him over to try some Amontillado, which is a very rare wine. Fortunato enthusiastically follows Montresor through his family's catacombs in order to try the Amontillado wine. While traveling through the catacombs, Fortunato continues to drink until he walks into a small room where Montresor shackles him. Fortunato is helpless and cannot escape as Montresor begins to build a wall out of stones until Fortunato's voice cannot be heard. Fortunato ends up dying behind the stone wall in the catacombs, and Montresor says he has been buried for fifty years.

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What happens to Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

The end of "The Cask of Amontillado" is a little ambiguous. It is not quite clear whether Fortunato is dead or stubbornly remaining silent. 

“For the love of God, Montresor!”

“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God!”

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud—

“Fortunato!”

No answer. I called again—

“Fortunato!”

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. 

It seems unlikely that Fortunato could have died of fright. More likely, he has just given up trying to escape from his tight chains and is resigned to his fate. The jingling of the bells on his cap suggests he is still alive in there. He might have remained alive for days or weeks. He would not die of thirst because there was plenty of water dripping along the granite wall. He could have licked the wall to assuage his thirst. He was more likely to have died of starvation. There may have been just enough oxygen in his crypt to allow him to breathe.

If Fortunato remained alive for several weeks, he must have suffered terrible mental torture. He may have imagined he heard footsteps coming outside the stone wall. He might hope searchers would rescue him, or that Montresor had relented and was coming back. Edgar Allan Poe leaves the rest of the story up to the reader's imagination. One way or another, Fortunato died in his chains.

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

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," why is the narrator happy to meet Fortunato?

"It must be understood", as Montresor might say, that he only appeared to be happy to meet Fortunato. In fact he was simply keeping up appearances to allay suspicion. However, we might be blunt and say that Montresor was happy to meet Fortunato because the first step in killing him was to find him.

Contrary to the way this question is phrased, Montresor is said to be greeted by Fortunato, and with excessive warmth, probably due to Fortunato being drunk, and to his personality being naturally a bit too much on the familiar side. Montresor keeps up his illusion of being happy to see Fortunato because he has always smiled in his presence, although Fortunato does not suspect that Montresor's smile is now inspired by the thought of Fortunato's "immolation" - meaning his burning in the fires of hell for his crimes.

Montresor is also using friendly language to manipulate Fortunato, by playing upon his ego. He needs to appear happy to see Fortunato, but ready to pass him by, so that Fortunato will see their meeting as one of a friendly opportunity to be had, and his own eagerness will further blind Fortunato to the danger that awaits him. 

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," why is the narrator happy to meet Fortunato?

The specific reason that Montresor smiles is because the thought of Fortunato's "immolation" pleases him. Immolation is a term for burning, meaning that Montresor imagines Fortunato burning in the fires of hell for his crimes. Montresor feels that this fate is justified, and it pleases him because it fulfills his need for retribution and completes a "cycle of justice" where Fortunato's crimes are repaid with a suitable punishment.

The broader reason that Montresor smiles is because it was his "wont" to do so. One's wont refers to one's habits or customs - Montresor was in the habit of smiling at Fortunato or in his presence, probably a pained smile that hid his inner loathing so as to keep up congenial public appearances. Montresor needs to smile now to avoid hinting to Fortunato that anything is wrong, or that Montresor is upset - if he fails to smile in the way that he always does, this will indicate that something must be seriously troubling him, and Fortunato will grow suspicious. Fortunato isn't a very insightful person anyway, and he either doesn't perceive or doesn't care that he has insulted Montresor in such a way as to deserve the kind of vengeance in store for him. 

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," why is the narrator happy to meet Fortunato?

The narrator, Montresor, is extremely pleased to meet Fortunato in the street because, tonight, he plans to exact his revenge on Fortunato for "The thousand injuries" he had done Montresor.  Montresor has come up with a plan and ensured that none of his servants will be home to witness his crime; all that remains is to find Fortunato and lure him into the trap Montresor has set.

This trap relies on Fortunato's one "weak point," his pride, especially the pride he feels in his taste and discernment as a connoisseur of wine.  Montresor, when he sees his nemesis, tells him that he has purchased a pipe (126 gallons) of Amontillado (a dry Spanish sherry) and that he was "silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting [Fortunato] in the matter."  In other words, he appeals to Fortunato's pride, thus increasing the likelihood that Fortunato will want to help him.  

Montresor goes on to flatter him even more, saying that he will seek out another local wine expert to confirm his purchase because "some fools will have it that his taste is a match for [Fortunato's]."  By calling those people "fools," Montresor implies that he knows that Fortunato's taste is better than this other man's, but by suggesting that he will ask for his assistance any way, Montresor guarantees that Fortunato will want to come in order to prove that his taste is, in fact, better.

Casually "bumping into" Fortunato in the street is the first step to exacting the revenge Montresor has so long desired.

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," why is the narrator happy to meet Fortunato?

To answer this question, we must first consider the relationship between the narrator, Montresor, and Fortunato. Although Monstresor is careful to give Fortunato no "cause to doubt [his] good will," Montresor has a thirst for revenge due to the insults (again, unspecified) that Fortunato has allegedly hurled at him.

When Montresor runs into Fortunato at dusk one evening during the carnival season, he is thrilled to see him because he may now finally carry out the devious plan that he has been dreaming up: to lure Fortunato to his wine cellar under the precipice of tasting a fine Amontillado and to then murder him. Montresor puts on a good face so that Fortunato "did not perceive that to smile now was at the thought of his immolation."

This plan works because Montresor knows Fortunato's weakness for wine; he describes him as one of the few Italians with a "true virtuoso spirit." After luring Fortunato to his cellar and getting him drunk, Montresor paves a wall around Fortunato, effectively trapping the man so that he may suffocate to death in the damp belly of the cellar.

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," why is the narrator happy to meet Fortunato?

The narrator is happy to meet Fortunato because he has been planning to kill him for some time. The story begins with a statement for the narrator that "A Thousand injuries I have borne the best I could but when he ventured on insult, I vowed revenge." The narrator continues to say that he did not let on to Fortunato that he planned to kill him. Instead he continued to "smile" at his "friend" and never let Fortunato even know he was angry with him. However, when he comes across him at carnival time, Montresor has already sent out his servants and the trap is set. Thus when he meets Fortunato he says, "we are luckily met". The narrator is being sarcastic because what he is really saying is, "I'm so glad to see you because I've just set my trap for your death."

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," why is the narrator happy to meet Fortunato?

The reference in Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Cask of Amontillado to "the carnival season" is not intended to establish as its setting an actual "carnival" as the word is employed in America. Rather, "carnival season" within the context of Poe's story refers to the week-long carnival-like atmosphere that preceded the period of Lent in Italy. Its closest American approximation would be the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans that caps the end of Carnival season in that Louisiana city. The streets are filled with people in costumes, and there is a joyful atmosphere throughout the community. That is to what Poe's narrator, Montresor, is referring when he mentions his fortuitous encounter with Fortunato. 

That said, Montresor is pleased to happen upon Fortunato during the carnival season for two reasons. First, Montresor has been obsessed with avenging a series of insults he believes he has received at the hands of Fortunato. The story's opening sentence is quite explicit on this matter:

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

The second, and related reason why Montresor is pleased by this encounter is that he knows his nemesis is inebriated, Fortunato having partaken of a great deal of alcoholic beverage as part of the annual festivities ("He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much"). Montresor knows that Fortunato, a respected and feared man, will be easier to manipulate while under the influence of alcohol, especially when the former wisely appeals to the vanity of the latter. In short, Montresor is pleased by this encounter because it plays into his hands. He has planned the execution of Fortunato, and the carnival atmosphere will make his task much easier.

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