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The Cask of Amontillado Discussion Questions

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

'The Cask of Amontillado' is a particularly disturbing Poe tale, and these discussion questions will assist your students in better understanding the motives of Montresor as he unleashes his bizarre plan.

The Cask of Amontillado

Edgar Allan Poe has both fascinated and horrified many generations of readers with his brilliantly spun, gripping tales of murder, mayhem, and revenge. The Cask of Amontillado is notably grim, as it depicts a supposed 'friend' of the victim enacting retribution in a most unpleasant way. Poe's ability to gradually build the suspense by elucidating each precise step is what keeps the reader's heart pounding throughout the entire sinister ride.

Questions about the Plot

  • The first line reads 'The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could...', but we don't really know what transgressions Fortunato committed against Montresor over the years. Is it possible he did things much worse than a verbal insult? What if he murdered one of Montresor's family members? Is anything so bad Montresor's revenge could be justified?
  • Why couldn't Montresor stop wringing Fortunato's hand when he met him at the carnival?
  • How does Montresor set Fortunato up to come back to his home?
  • Was it ironic that Fortunato said he 'would not die of a cough?'
  • Why did Montresor keep giving Fortunato wine as they moved throughout the catacombs?
  • As they walked through the catacombs, Montresor says his family coat of arms has the expression Nemo me impune lacessit. What does the word 'impunity' mean? Do you think this coat of arms is true?
  • Does Fortunato insult Montresor for not being part of the 'brotherhood'? What is this brotherhood? Do you think Fortunato thinks highly of Montresor? Are comments like these the reason Montresor seeks to murder Fortunato?
  • What do you think about Montresor's toast to Fortunato's long life?
  • What did walking by the pile of human bones foretell?
  • How is Poe gradually building suspense?
  • Why did Fortunato not resist when Montresor shackled him?
  • What was the purpose of Montresor throwing the torch into the enclosed tomb with Fortunato?
  • At the end of the tale Montresor declares In pace requiescat! What does this mean?

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