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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How would "The Cask of Amontillado" differ if narrated by Fortunato?

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Point of view is important to telling a story.  The point of view controls what information the reader gets, and frames it a certain way.  This story has what we call an unreliable narrator.  Montresor is crazy.  He does not really think rationally, so we have no idea whether or not we can trust what he says.

The biggest question of the story is: What did Fortunato do?  We are told by Montresor that he was insulted by Fortunato.

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged …

If Fortunato was telling the story, we would not know that a murder was planned.  We might find out what Fortunato did to anger Montresor though, if he even feels like mentioning it.  The insult must have been something very slight for Fortunato to go into the catacombs.  You do not follow a man you have grievously injured underground.

The other information the reader would get from Fortunato would be whether or not, or when, he became suspicious.  Montresor seems to be doing a very good job of manipulating Fortunato. 

"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 Luchresi --"

It would be interesting to see Fortunato’s mindset here.  Obviously he does not want Luchesi to look at that wine.  Why?  Is it just because he is conceited and wants to prevent anyone else from getting the glory?  There could be another reason.

Changing narrators would certainly be a twist on this story.  It would confirm that Montresor really is crazy.  Fortunato might confess to the injury.  What if he really did do something to Montresor?

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In "The Cask of Amontillado," how might the story be different if he had told it the morning after the murder?

"The Cask of Amontillado" would lose its timelessness if it were narrated the day after.  Revenge and revenge stories are dishes best served cold.  You can't tell them hot.

If it happened the next morning, you would have to change the ending from...

For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them.

In pace requiescat!

...to something like "For half a day nobody has disturbed them."  And then I don't know the Latin phrase for,  "May he rest until lunch" is, but it's not as good, is it?

To change a word is to diminish the shock the audience feels when they realize that the narrator is an old man!  That this old, sadistic murderer can remember his gruesome act with perfect and eloquent detail!  No, the story must be narrated by old Montressor.  This man could be our grandpa, for heaven's sake!  Creepy.

The murder is not the horror in this story.  The fact that Montressor's crime has remained undiscovered is the not the horror in this story.  The way the story is told is the horror. The way the narrator either remembered the actual crime in such detail or the way he completely fabricated it with such detail is utterly horrifying.  I don't know what's worse.  Either way it shows the intensity for retribution Montressor must have felt.  For what?  What could Fortunato have said or done to make Montressor relish in revenge for over 50 years?  This is the irony that must be preserved.

Do not disturb the framing of the story: May it rest in peace.

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