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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Where and when does "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

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Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" never clearly states where or when it is set. In paragraph three of the short story, Poe says, "Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. ...Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. " From this we learn that Fortunato was Italian, so we may assume that the story takes place in Italy, but there is no indisputable evidence of that. In the course of the story, the narrator compares the catacombs they are going into to the catacombs of Paris, so while that emphasizes the European influence, it does not necessarily change the setting.

The time of the short story is also unstated in the text. Poe does clearly delineate that the action takes place during carnival season, which is like Mardi Gras. However, we are not given any hints as to which year, other than the reference from the narrator at the end of the story that Fortunato has not been disturbed "for the half of a century..." so the story obviously is intended to be set at least 50 years prior to the telling of the tale. 

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Where does the story of "The Cask of Amontillado" take place?

“The Cask of Amontillado” takes place in Italy in the evening during carnival time. As the narrator tells us, it happens “one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season...”. This quote also illustrates why the setting is important: the Italian “Carnival” is a time during which anything goes; people may break from the customs and traditions of society, which, of course, Montresor does.

The second place of importance is, of course, the damp catacombs. The atmosphere of the catacombs foreshadows Montresor’s murder of Fortunato. As they move further into the catacombs, Montresor remarks on the presence of niter in the catacombs, a chemical which marks the presence of decomposing matter: “The nitre!...it increases. It hands like moss upon the vaults...The drops of moisture trickle among the bones.” The presence of niter, in addition to actual human remains they find in the catacombs (“We had passed through walls of piled bones...”), create a very macabre atmosphere. To add to the horror of the atmosphere, when Montresor buries Fortunato, he sits on a pile of bones he has moved about in order to create room for Fortunato in the tomb: “The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labors and sat down upon the bones.” The setting is not only in and of itself gruesome, but also highlights Montresor’s sinister nature.

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Where is the cask of Amontillado?

There is no cask of Amontillado. Montresor is only using an imaginary cask of imported wine to lure Fortunato into his underground vaults and catacombs. Montresor says several times, "I have my doubts." It is only because he pretends to have doubts about the authenticity of the nonexistent Amontillado that he can ask Fortunato to come with him to sample it. If for any reason Fortunato declined to come to Montresor's palazzo that night, he would undoubtedly question Montresor about it the next day; and Montresor would have to produce a sample of the so-called Amontillado. This is another reason Montresor expresses serious doubts about whether he has bought the true Amontillado or an inferior Spanish sherry. If Montresor failed in springing his trap on the night he encountered Fortunato, he would probably bring him an unlabeled bottle of sherry as a sample. Fortunato would taste it, pronounce it bogus, and that would be the end of that attempt on his life. But Montresor is an extremely patient man, and he would be thinking of some other means to murder his enemy without getting caught. Montresor twice inquires whether Fortunato is expected anywhere that night and feels assured that he is not. First Montresor says, in part, "As you are engaged." Then, since Fortunato does not give him the information he seeks, he says, in part, "I perceive you have an engagement." And this time Fortunato says, "I have no engagement; come." Montresor would prefer that Fortunato should be missing at least overnight, so as to leave a cold trail when an investigation was finally started.

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Where is the cask of Amontillado?

The cask of Amontillado,a very special sherry, is located in the family catacombs of Montresor's home; catacombs are tombs or crypts used for the burial of people.

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Where is the cask of Amontillado?

It is supposedly in the Catacombs of Montresor's home

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