"The Cask of Amontillado" is a story of revenge, but the reader is never told exactly what Fortunato did to warrant such vengeance. In fact, throughout the story, the reader gradually realizes that Montresor is an unreliable narrator; that whatever insult Montresor believes Fortunato committed is probably imagined or exaggerated. It's certain that Fortunato has no idea of Montresor's anger, and this makes the story even more tragic and frightening. The seemingly happy jangling of the bells on the top of Fortunato's cap become more and more sad the deeper the two venture into the catacombs.
In the beginning of the story, Montresor defines revenge. He says he must "punish with impunity." He states if the avenger is caught, or does not make the punishment known to he who committed the wrong, the wrong goes unavenged.
With this in mind, he sets the trap for Fortunato. He gives Fortunato numerous opportunities to back out, using the tricks of classic conmen by playing on Fortunato's greed and pride. In fact, it is Fortunato who insists they carry on to find the Amontillado, and this will no doubt torture him as he is buried alive. Montresor also provides hints as to what he plans to do with Fortunato. He seemingly miraculously comes up with a cask of Amontillado during carnival, which Fortunato can scarcely believe. He tells Fortunato, "You are a man to be missed," and after Fortunato says he won't die of a cough, Montresor agrees. His family motto is "No one insults me with impunity" and he is carrying a trowel. Yet Fortunato suspects nothing, and is so shocked when Montresor chains him to the wall, he doesn't even try to fight.
The structure of the story places the events 50 years in the past. Montresor, perhaps on his own deathbed, is telling someone, perhaps a priest, the story, but not with any remorse. He still believes Fortunato wronged him, and at the end eerily says "In pace requiescat," or "May he rest in peace."
A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a novel. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Example "The Cask of Amontillado" Plot Diagram
During Carnival in Italy, Montresor runs into Fortunato, and offers to share a very nice bottle of Amontillado wine with him. However, this bottle is in his catacombs. It is late at night and Fortunato seems ill.
The narrator, Montresor, claims that Fortunato has gravely insulted him, and is plotting to get his revenge.
Montresor lures Fortunato down into the dark and eerie wine vault. As suspense builds, Montresor keeps asking if Fortunato would like to turn back because he seems ill. Fortunato continues to drink wine to ease his cough.
When they reach their destination, there is no Amontillado, but there is a hole in the wall. Montresor shackles Fortunato inside, and begins to seal up the wall with bricks.
As the last few bricks are laid, Fortunato screams for Montresor to stop, but it is too late. Montresor has enacted his revenge.
Montresor walks away with only the sound of Fortunato’s jingling jester bells echoing in the tomb. He replaces the bones of the crypt. In the end, he claims that no one has disturbed them for 50 years; he has gotten away with his plot!
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of "The Cask of Amontillado".
- Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)