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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Student Question

Does Poe's first sentence in "The Cask of Amontillado" effectively create the intended effect?

Expert Answers

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Edgar Allan Poe's belief that it is critical that the first sentence of a story should cause the reader to experience the effect for which the author strives is very well exemplified in his writing.  In the first sentence of "The Cask of Amontillado," Poe writes, "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge." Within this quote, Poe reveals the narrator's (Montresor's) intense desire to exact revenge on a Fortunato, who he clearly feels has done him numerous wrongs and, thus, deserves to be punished.  It is also clear from the first sentence that Montresor feels justified in pursuing a course of action that would allow him retribution.  The reader has no difficulty understanding that Montresor is driven, prideful, and occupied with the idea of Fortunato's payment for his wrong-doings.

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