The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Who is the narrator addressing? Who is the "you" to whom Montresor confesses his crime? What is his motivation in telling the story?

2. Discuss the function and symbolism of wine in the story.

3. Why do you think Poe gives no explanation of the "thousand injuries" and final "insult" committed by Fortunato? What can you guess about them based on the interaction between the men? How do you explain the fact that Fortunato does not ask why Montresor is ready to kill him?

4. Consider all the factors that work in combination to lead Fortunato to his demise, including his drunkenness and his pride. What makes this a particularly lethal combination?

5. Is Montresor ever sorry for what he did? Explain the passage in which Fortunato begs for his life and Montresor replies, "Yes, for the love of God." Why, at the end of the story, does Montresor say "Rest in peace"?

6. Charles Dana, an early reviewer of Poe's stories, described them as "clumsily contrived, unnatural, and every way in bad taste." What other works that might fit this description also eventually won critical and popular favor?