Jealousy in the Cask of Term Paper
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If you think it is Amontillado, then it surely is." Instead, Fortunato seals his fate, because with all of his actions, he validates the notion that Montresor actually needs his opinion. This is the great injury Fortunato has committed, over and over: he believes that his skills at judging spirits are the equal of, or possibly superior to, those of Montresor. It reminds me of the wicked witch who is compelled to condemn Snow White to death because a magic mirror tells her Snow White is prettier than she, the witch, is.
Montresor has taken precautions all along the way to make sure he will be able to handle his friend when the time comes, plying him with alcohol along the way, so that by the time Fortunato gets to the end of the final passage, he is unsteady on his feet, either from the wine, or his illness, or both. Quickly Montresor shackles him to the wall, and begins cementing the wall that will seal him in with a trowel he had already shown Fortunato.
The final scene is a grisly one. As Montresor works, calmly bricking up the tomb that will hold his friend's body forever, Fortunato realizes that this is no joke. He rattles his chained hands and cries out, but none of this bothers Montresor. In fact, when Montresor is partly done, he sits down -- on a pile of the bones of family members -- to consider what he has done, so far. He has not finished his masonry yet, so it seems that he is staring into the face of the man he is going to suffocate. Fortunato will disappear and no one will know what happened. Because he
disappered on a night of revelry while in costume and a mask, no one will even know who it was that strolled away with Montresor. Montresor has planned the perfect person to commit it. He seems to have ice water for blood.
The first time I read this story, I half-expected Montresor to say, "All right, the joke is over. Confess that I know more about spirits than you do, and quickly, and I won't finish the wall." But that is not what happens. Instead he continues the charade that the event is just two men walking in a cellar, and suggests that the man return, even though the man is chained to the wall. As he builds the wall chest-high, he shines a light on it once more, apparently to admire his work.
Fortunato screams again, and the sound must have echoed tremendously in the catacombs, and for a moment it causes Montresor to pause. Finally Fortunato forces a laugh and declares it all a good joke, but it's too late. Montresor has steeled himself and calmly finishes sealing the man within the wall.
One thing that struck me about this story was the idea that we may not know people as well as we think we do. Clearly Fortunato thinks he is safe in Montresor's company, but he hasn't really seen what the man is like. He hasn't spotted Montresor's tremendous rage that Fortunato might be his match at anything. I think the author emphasized this idea by setting his story on an evening when people were walking the streets in masks.
Poe, Edward Allen. "The Cask of Amontillado." Accessed via the Internet 9/13/05. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=PoeCask.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1
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