Discussion Questions for

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado"

1.) What do you think Montresor’s motivation is for killing Fortunato?  What do you think Montresor means in the 1st paragraph of the story by “the thousand injuries” and “insult”?

2.) How does Poe motivate the behavior of Montresor?  Does the story provide any hints as to the “thousand injuries” he has suffered?  Are any hints necessary?

3.) Who do you suppose the “You” is in the 1st paragraph of the story?

4.) Why do you suppose Poe sets this story during “the carnival season”?

5.) Why is the setting of the story appropriate?

6.) What does Montresor’s treatment of his house servants tell us about his knowledge of human psychology, and how does it prepare us for his treatment of Fortunato?

7.) Examine Montresor’s verbal and non-verbal strategies of initially engaging Fortunato and then luring him along throughout the story.

8.) What do you suppose Montresor means when he says, “You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was.  You are a man to be missed.  For me it is no matter”?

9.) Discuss Montresor’s family’s coat-of-arms and motto.

10.) Discuss the references to “the brotherhood” and “the masons.”

11.) Discuss the section when Montresor is erecting the wall to entomb Fortunato, especially both Fortunato’s and Montresor’s sounds, words, and movements.

12.) How does Poe increase the elements of suspense as Fortunato is gradually walled into the catacombs?

13.) Examine the very last paragraph of the story – especially (1) the phrase, “My heart grew sick …” and (2) the very last sentence.

14.) Do you see any irony in the story?