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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What are three clever tactics Montresor uses to trap Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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Montresor uses three clever tactics to trap Fortunato in "The Cask of Amontillado". First, he selects the carnival season to execute his plan, ensuring no one will notice his actions. Second, he manipulates Fortunato's vanity about his wine knowledge, luring him to the cellars. Lastly, Montresor ensures Fortunato isn't expected anywhere, thereby leaving no cold trail. He also conditions himself to think of Fortunato as a friend, eliminating suspicion from others after Fortunato's disappearance.

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1). Montresor carries out his wicked revenge on Fortunato during a carnival. This means that everyone will be out and about enjoying themselves, and so there won't be anyone around to notice Montresor luring Fortunato down to the catacombs. As it's carnival time, Fortunato is also wearing motley, or a jester's costume, which will make it virtually impossible for anyone to identify him, even if they weren't already preoccupied with having a good time.

2). Montresor chooses the carnival as he knows that all his servants will be out enjoying themselves, along with everyone else. It's not enough for Montresor to kill Fortunato; he has to get away with it as well. And what better way to avoid being caught than to ensure that there's absolutely no one around to witness this dastardly crime and its aftermath?

3). Montresor expertly plays upon Fortunato's enormous vanity. Fortunato fancies himself as a wine connoisseur, and Montresor knows that his sworn enemy will be unable to resist the opportunity, not just to taste a drop of the finest Amontillado but also to show off his extensive knowledge of fine wine. The beauty of this plan is that, drunk or sober, Fortunato would've been unable to resist accompanying Montresor down to the cellars.

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One of the most clever things Montresor does in entrapping Fortunato is to make sure that his intended victim is not expected at home or anywhere else that night. Montresor twice pretends to believe that Fortunato has an engagement. First he says:

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me—”

This also introduces the idea that if Fortunato should refuse to accompany Montresor to his palazzo for any reason, Montresor would immediately go to Luchesi to ask him to judge his wine. Fortunato responds to the mention of Luchesi but not to the supposition that he is "engaged." Montresor must find out. He wants to leave a cold trail. If Fortunato is expected anywhere that night, Montresor will probably postpone his revenge. Again he brings up his enemy's supposed engagement, and this time he gets the information he wants:

“My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchesi—”

“I have no engagement;—come.”

A second clever thing Montresor does at the beginning of the tale is to repeat that he has "doubts" about the authenticity of the Amontillado. If Fortunato does not come to Montresor's palazzo that night for any reason, such as an engagement or his bad cold, then Fortunato will certainly want to know more about the wine the next time he sees Montresor. Since the wine does not exist, Montresor will bring Fortunato a bottle of ordinary sherry and tell him it came from the cask he just purchased. Fortunato will, of course, judge it not to be true Amontillado, and that will be the end of the matter. 

Montresor shows great patience and foresight in his revenge scheme. When he has Fortunato chained to the wall and his victim pretends that he is expected that night by his wife and a houseful of guests, Montresor cannot be frightened into unlocking the padlock. A third clever thing he did, which shows his patience and foresight, was to condition himself to think of Fortunato as his "friend" and to address him and refer to him as such repeatedly over a long period of time. When it is discovered that Fortunato has disappeared, there will be a big investigation. Naturally people will suspect foul play--but no one will suspect Montresor because he is known to be Fortunato's very good friend. Montresor himself will undoubtedly continue to inquire after Fortunato for a long time after his mysterious disappearance. In fact, the uproar occasioned by Fortunato's disappearance, along with the pain it causes Fortunato's wife and relatives, will contribute to Montresor's enjoyment of his perfect revenge. Fortunato himself has been lulled into trusting Montresor by being repeatedly addressed by him as "my friend," as Montresor does throughout his narrative.

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Montresor pretends to believe that Fortunato has an "engagement"; that is, that he is expected somewhere that night. He hopes Fortunato will either confirm or deny it. The first time Montresor mentions a presumed engagement, Fortunato does not respond. The second time he mentions an engagement, Fortunato gives Montresor the information he requires when he says, "I have no engagement. Come!" Much later when Fortunato is chained to the rock wall, he will try to frighten Montresor into releasing him by asserting two things: (1) that people have seen him and Montresor together on the streets and supposed they were on their way to Fortunato's palazzo, and (2) that he is expected at his home by Lady Fortunato "and the rest." Fortunato also treats his entrapment as a big joke, offering Montresor an excuse and an alibi at the same time he is trying to plant a grain of fear in his captor's mind. If Fortunato is really expected that night and doesn't show up, then servants, relatives and guests could all be out searching for him with torches. Montresor wants to leave a cold trail. He doesn't want Fortunato missed until the next morning at the earliest, by which time everybody will be recovering from hangovers. If Montresor were foolish enough to release his captive and go along with the fantastic pretense that this was all a big joke, Fortunato would act as if they were the best of friends until he got out of those dreadful catacombs--but later Montresor would be found in an alley with his throat cut. Montresor describes his friendly enemy as a man to be respected and even feared. Fortunato does not succeed in unnerving his captor because Montresor had the foresight to find out that Fortunato had no "engagement."

Montresor's only excuse for pretending to believe Fortunato has an engagement is that he supposedly has had a hard time finding him. If Fortunato were to ask, "What makes you think I have an engagement?", Montresor would probably reply, "I have been searching all over for you and had decided that you must be on your way to a celebration of some sort at a private home." Something of that sort. Montresor has been fine-tuning his revenge plot for years. He has formed the habit of speaking of Fortunato as his friend, his good friend, etc., and has even conditioned himself to think of Fortunato as his good friend. He knows this will create a strong impression that he and Fortunato are very good friends. He probably never mentions Fortunato's name without saying, "My friend Fortunato," "My old friend Fortunato," or "My good friend Fortunato." The only purpose for this is that, when Fortunato turns up missing, no one will have the slightest suspicion that Montresor could have had anything to do with his disaappearance. Montresor knows that the inquiry will be large and long. Fortunato is an important man. People will be talking about the mystery for years. Montresor himself will have to be one of the people who shows the most concern for the longest period of time. He will be continually asking if there is any news about his good friend Fortunato.

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In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor plays upon Fortunato’s ego in order to lure him into his trap. “He had a weak point—this Fortunato….He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.”

Fortunato plays upon this pride.  First, he tells Fortunato about the Amontillado, which he says he doubts is authentic.  Next, he tells Fortunato that he is on his way to see Luchesi, another connoisseur, to ask his opinion.  Montresor  then gives reasons why Fortunato should not go with him to examine the wine—a previous engagement and Fortunato’s obvious illness.  Fortunato dismisses these things and insists he go with Montresor to taste the wine.  All the while, Montresor alludes to imposing upon Luchesi instead of Fortunato.  Finally, Fortunato says, “And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado.”  Fortunato's ego will not permit him to allow his friend to consult another connoisseur. They then hurry to Montresor’s palazzo.

As they proceed to the vaults, Montresor continues to implore Fortunato to leave because of his health.  He also continues to say that he can request Luchesi’s aid to authenticate the Amontillado.  Because of the nitre which is causing Fortunato to cough, Montresor  gives him Medoc to drink, proceeding to get his friend drunk.  In his intoxicated state, Fortunato is easily fooled into his grave, still in search of the illusive Amontillado.

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Montresor is the narrator of "the Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, and he holds a serious grudge against his friend Fortunato. Montresor is intent on getting his revenge against Fortunato for some imagined insult, and to do that he creates an elaborate plan to kill Fortunato.

Montresor is not a sane man but he is clever, and the plan he devises necessitates some creative thinking on his part. First of all, Montresor must hide his feelings of hatred for Fortunato. He does this so successfully that throughout the entire plan, and even at the end, Fortunato has no clue that Montresor wants to kill him.

Second, Montresor chooses Carnival time to enact his plan; this guarantees that Fortunato will not be immediately missed, buying Montresor some time if he needs it. Brilliant.

Third, Montresor must be able to bring Fortunato to his empty house. To do that, he does the simplest and most clever thing he can think of to do during Carnival time:

I had told them [the servants] that I should not return until the morning and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

It is an ingenious move to tell the servants that he will not be home but he does not want them to go anywhere; it is human nature for them to disobey under such circumstances, and they do.

Next Montresor has to lure Fortunato away from the Carnival festivities. Montresor determines that the only way he can get Fortunato to leave the celebration is to appeal to his pride as a wine connoisseur. Montresor lies and tells Fortunato he has a cask of Amontillado, a nearly impossible feat during Carnival time. When Fortunato is dismissive of the claim, Montressor argues that he needs someone to test it and then suggests Luchesi, Fortunato's rival, should be the one to test the wine. Of course Fortunato does not want to be outdone by his competition, so he insists on going to taste the wine. Every time Fortunato wavers, Montresor mentions Luchesi and that is enough to keep Fortunado moving. It is an ingenious strategy.

Finally, Montresor has to lure Fortunato into the lowest point in his home, the crypt. To do that, he feigns (pretends) concern for Fortunato's health and keeps giving him medicinal draughts of wine. This keeps Fortunato drunk or tipsy enough to keep moving without too many questions or hesitations.

In short, Montresor is successful in developing and executing a clever plan to lure Fortunato to his death; however, it may have been just a bit too clever, since Fortunato never realized why Montresor wanted him dead.

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Montresor certainly is ready with his bag of tricks when it comes time to lure Fortunato into the catacombs. First, he introduces the prospect of a rare bottle of Amontillado when it is, in fact, nonexistent. The possibility of sampling the vintage is enough to keep Fortunato interested until it is too late. Secondly, Montresor has chosen the "supreme madness of the carnival season" to use as a background for his murder. The noise, costumes and alcohol provide a screen for his plan; additionally, he has told his servants that he will be out for the entire evening, knowing that it would 

... insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

With no witnesses, Montresor and Fortunato alone descend deeper into the tombs. Again, Montresor has planned ahead. He tells Fortunato that the Amontillado is near, at "the most remote end of the crypt." But instead of finding Amontillado, Fortunato finds his final resting place. Montresor has already visited the area, hiding mortar amongst the loose stones; he has chains attached to iron staples in the granite in which to subdue Fortunato. He even carries a trowel with him, the final tool of his perfect crime.

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What are some things that show that Montresor is cunning in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Montresor uses Fortunato's pride to entice him to go and try the Amontillado. Montresor notes Fortunato's weakness in the third paragraph: 

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. 

Knowing this, Montresor intended to exact his revenge on Fortunato by exploiting that weakness. He first mentions that he has the Amontillado but has his doubts about it, encouraging Fortunato to brag about his connoisseurship. Montresor then adds that he's going to ask Luchesi to sample the Amontillado in order to give him a judgment on it. Montresor knows Fortunato will say that he is the more seasoned wine taster. Fortunato adds, "And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado." 

As they go further in to the catacombs, Montresor continuously suggests that they go back to save Fortunato's health and nagging cough. Fortunato, in his pride, takes this as a dare, as if Montresor is daring him to continue on. Fortunato urges them to continue on; thus, Montresor makes Fortunato the captain of the journey that will lead to his end (Fortunato's). 

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Name three of many clever things Montresor does to lure Fortunato into his trap in "The Cask of Amontillado."

  • Montresor twice pretends to think Fortunato is expected somewhere that evening. For example: “As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me—” Fortunato finally says, "I am not engaged;--come!" Montresor does not want people out looking for Fortunato that night if he is expected at home or somewhere else and doesn't show up. He wants to leave a cold trail and not have people inquiring about his victim until tomorrow morning at the earliest. His mention of Luchesi is intended to motivate Fortunato to accompany him to his palazzo immediately. He can't make an appointment for Fortunato to come to his palazzo at some later time--even an hour or two later--because Fortunato could easily tell someone he was going to Montresor's home. Then when Fortunato turned up missing and the police started making inquiries, they would want to question Montresor and even search his premises. He wants to be above suspicion--which is why he has conditioned himself, not only to call Fortunato his friend, but actually to think of him as "my friend," "my good friend," and "my poor friend," as shown throughout his narrative.
  • Montresor tells Fortunato he bought the Amontillado impulsively because he didn't want to lose a "bargain." "Bargain" is the key word. Now he wants to make sure it is genuine. Why? He has already paid for it and had it delivered to his vaults. Obviously he would buy more at a bargain price if only he could be sure it is genuine Amontillado. A lot of us can have second thoughts about "bargains." We find out there is something wrong with whatever it was we purchased. Fortunato is not interested in helping Montresor or in showing off his connoisseurship. He is interested in the "bargain." He wants to get in on it.
  • Montresor constantly uses what is called "reverse psychology." When he and his victim are down in the catacombs, he keeps suggesting that they turn back. Fortunato is drunk, and drunkards are notoriously contrary and stubborn. If your friend has been drinking too heavily and wants to drive home, you will have a very hard time getting him to let you drive his car. Montresor's fake concern about Fortunato's health makes him seem completely innocent. Why would he be suggesting that they turn back if he had any ulterior purpose in moving forward? Here is an example of his reverse psychology: “Come,” I said, with decision, “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. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi—”
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Name three of many clever things Montresor does to lure Fortunato into his trap in "The Cask of Amontillado."

Montresor has never given Fortunato reason to doubt his goodness. Therefore, Montresor has no problem luring Fortunato to his death. But the number one strategy Montresor uses on Fortunato is to use his (Fortunato's) pride against him. 

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. 

Montresor tells Fortunato he is not sure about his wine being Amontillado. Montresor knows Fortunato will not be able to resist showing off his knowledge of wines, so he insists on going to Montresor's vaults in order to test the wine. 

Montresor also continues to encourage Fortunato to drink as they descend further into the vaults. This keeps Fortunato drunk enough to ignore his cough, to continue to suspect nothing sinister about Montresor, and to continue his proud quest to prove his superior knowledge of wine.  

Montresor continues to use Fortunato's pride against him. Although the light is too dim for Fortunato to proceed, Montresor mentions Luchesi, another wine connoisseur; Fortunato proceeds in order to prove his superiority over Luchesi. 

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Name three of many clever things Montresor does to lure Fortunato into his trap in "The Cask of Amontillado."

Crazy though he may be, Montresor certainly uses his wits in his revenge on Fortunato. First, he hides his true feelings in order to lure Montresor into a false sense of security; he doesn't let on that he has experienced any change of feelings.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.

Montresor also chooses his bait well. He picks something he knows Fortunato cannot refuse: the chance to inspect a very valuable old wine—a cask of Amontillado.

He also is very clever in recognizing his friend's vice: his pride. He knows that if he appears to give preference to another wine expert's  advice, Fortunato will be anxious to prove himself and prepared to go anywhere and drop anything to do so.

"Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."

"And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own."

"Come, let us go."

He also chooses carnival time to get his revenge, when the streets are crowded, people are less attentive, his servants are out making merry, and he himself can wear a disguise: "a mask of black silk and ... a roquelaire." It also helps ensure that Fortunato isn't thinking clearly—he's already drunk, since his eyes betray "the rheum of intoxication." He also cleverly works to keep his friend that way: "A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps."

What's more, he has clearly prepared the scene; he has the chains ready so that it is "the work of a few seconds" to loop them around Fortunato and lock him in.

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What are some examples of Montresor's clever use of psychology in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Montresor is the protagonist and narrator of "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, and he is clearly not sane. Despite that fact, he is quite clever. He feels he has been somehow injured by a fellow wine connoisseur named Fortunato, and Montresor determines that he has been pushed too far and must now take his revenge on his colleague Fortunato.

Two things are crucial to Montresor's plan working, and both of them involve his use of psychology to make things happen. The first is that no one at all must be in his house so he can dispose of Fortunato as he wishes without fear of discovery. It is Carnival time, and of course Montresor is perfectly bright enough to know that all of his servants would rather be out celebrating than doing their jobs on his estate. Montresor makes a brilliant move:

There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour 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. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

This is a bold example of reverse psychology. Montresor does not say he even checked to see if they left; he simply knew they would all be gone. This is a great example of Montresor using psychological trickery, but it is also an indication that in some respects Montresor is capable of rational, even exceptional thinking. 

The second thing that must happen if Montresor's plan is going to succeed is that he must find a way to lure the unsuspecting Fortunato not only back to his estate but into the crypts below the house. To do this, Montresor appeals to Fortunato's weakness--his pride.

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. 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. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; --I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

Because Fortunato is so certain he has the best wine palate in the city, Montresor simply lies and tells Fortunato that he has a cask of Amontillado, something Fortunato could not believe without tasting it. Every single time Montresor senses that Fortunato is wavering in his resolve to follow Montresor to the non-existent cask of wine, Montresor invokes the name of Luchresi, a man Fortunato claims "cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado."

This appeal to Fortunato's excessive pride does work (and is something that might have worked on Montresor, as well, as he is equally proud of his wine palate) and he follows Montresor all the way to his doom. One added strategy is that Montresor consistently gives wine as "medicine" to Fortunato for his cough, getting Fortunato drunk enough that he does not question Montresor's acts as much as he might.

This deliberate and rather intricate plan relies on Montresor's keen mind and knowledge of human nature, something quite confounding in a man who is obviously not sane.

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