Plot and Themes of “The Cask of Amontillado” by Poe
Every reader of the horror genre knows the name Edgar Allan Poe and his countless works. In 1846, the author wrote one of his most short stories, “The Cask of Amontillado.” In it, the main character, Montresor, recalls how he buried another man alive for, as he believes, insulting him. One of the themes is mirrored in the story’s name – wine acts as a symbol of temptation and the outcome of succumbing to it.
The center of the narrative is Montresor’s desire to take revenge on Fortunato for an insult that the reader does not know. When describing Fortunato, Montresor notes that “he had one great weakness: he liked to drink good wine” (Poe, 2016, p. 1). Here, one can see how wine immediately becomes the main plot element and a tool for Montresor’s plan. Later, the character uses this knowledge to invite Fortunato to a private tasting.
As the story progresses, the appeal of wine grows with each glass and bottle that the characters discuss. At the finale, Montresor asks Fortunato to appraise a unique bottle of Amontillado, using his enemy’s lack of control and desire to drink more. Here, wine is posed as a lure that Fortunato cannot resist, and he becomes entombed as a result. Interestingly, the story clearly shows that Fortunato loves drinking wine, but it does not confirm his knowledge about the drink. It is possible to assume that his ego is what truly left him blind to the crime planned by Montresor.
To sum up, the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” uses wine as a symbol of temptation. Fortunato, blinded by the desire to drink good wine, is killed by a friend. The victim’s confidence in his knowledge overpowers his senses and leads him to his death. The wine is the center of the story as it is a tool for revenge and a subject of all dialogues.
Poe, E. A. (2016). The Cask of Amontillado. Auckland: The Floating Press.