There are only two main characters in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story A Cask of Amontillado. Montresor, the narrator, tells his story of revenge against his friend. He plans the perfect murder, intoxicating his friend, luring him to a secluded location, and walling him up inside a crypt. Fortunato is the other main character, the friend who has insulted Montresor many times but has no idea that he is being led to his death. Get a comprehensive answer to who are the characters in The Cask of Amontillado and The Cask of Amontillado short summary below!
The Cask of Amontillado Main Characters
Montresor is the narrator of the short story and the main protagonist. He narrates events from 50 years ago related to the death of his friend Fortunato. He comes from a wealthy family and is well educated, but he seems to hold a grudge against Fortunato. He believes that Fortunato has insulted him many times without going into any specifics and he must do something about the situation.
During Carnival week, Montressor approaches Fortunato when he is already drunk and tells him that he has a cask of what might be Amontillado (a light Spanish sherry) but he needs someone knowledgeable to taste it and confirm it. To further incite Fortunato, he tells him that if he is too busy he will go to his competitor Luchesi and ask him. Fortunado insists on going to the vaults immediately to taste the Amontillado.
Montresor has sent away all his servants so that no one is around that night. The two descend into the damp vaults, the walls covered with a whitish powder - saltpeter. Fortunato coughs regularly, and to lull him into a false sense of security Montresor keeps saying they should go back. In the end, Montresor persuades Fortunato into drinking more wine as a remedy for his cough.
The Montresor family motto is Nemo me impune lacessit, which means "no one insults me with impunity". Montresor describes this to Fortunato when he drunkenly says he’s forgotten the Montresor coat of arms, another small insult.
At one point Fortunato makes a strange gesture with his hand that Montresor doesn’t understand. Fortunato asks him if he is part of the secret organization called the Masons, again, a possible insult to Montresor’s honor. Montresor responds by showing him a trowel he’s been carrying implying that he is a literal stonemason.
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They walk into a crypt where one wall has the bones removed exposing a small niche. Montresor tells Fortunato that is where the Amontillado is stored. Fortunato is very drunk by now and as he goes in, Montresor chains him to a large rock. Montresor then taunts Fortunato saying that since Fortunato won’t come back with him, he must leave him there.
Montresor starts calmly laying down a layer of brick, entombing his friend. Fortunato sobers up quicker than expected and shakes the chains violently to escape but Montresor just keeps laying down more bricks.
Montressor feels a sickness in his heart as he walks away from where he has buried his friend alive but quickly attributes it to the dampness in the cave rather than any regret or guilt. Even 50 years later, as he narrates the story, he still has no regrets as he reveals that the body must still be there. He ends with a cold-hearted “May he rest in peace”
Fortunato is the unsuspecting victim of the murder. As a friend of Montresor’s, he is unaware that he has caused thousands of insults to him. Fortunato is dressed in a traditional Jester’s costume when Montresor approaches him during carnival, signifying his foolish nature. Fortunato loves wine and is easily manipulated by Montresor into coming with him at once to taste Amontillado.
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Fortunato is prideful and Montresor uses this several times to convince him to go deeper and deeper into his family crypt. Fortunato is oblivious to the small ways he insults Montresor, never once mentioning him by name, saying he forgot his family coat of arms, and assuming that Montresor is a Freemason. Though he considers himself a connoisseur of wine, he drinks in excess and in huge quantities, further upsetting Montresor.
When he realizes that Montresor is walling him in he screams and sobers up quickly but is unable to escape. He falls silent until the last brick is about to be laid and laughs, hoping that Montresor is joking. He doesn’t reply to Montresor’s last attempts to talk to him, and as he lays the last brick, all Montresor hears is the jingle of the bells on his jester’s hat.
Minor Characters in The Cask of Amontillado
Luchesi is the only other character in The Cask of Amontillado. He is known as an expert on fine wines and as such, is a competitor to Fortunato. Montresor knows how to push Fortunato’s buttons and tells him that he will ask Luchesi for help if he is not available. This prompts Fortunato to say that Luchesi could not tell the difference between sherry and Amontillado and that he himself will come with Montresor immediately.
To Sum Up
The Cask of Amontillado is frightening because of the coldness of Montresor. His character has been analyzed for over 150 years and seems to fit the modern definition of a psychopath. When the short story was published in 1846 people were terrified of the character, some accusing Poe of having no morals because he could conceive of such a character. Poe was a master of writing chilling characters, and even though the main The Cask of Amontillado characters number just two, his use of archetypes makes both characters familiar and vibrant. The foolish, rich, self-important drunk and the cold, conniving, emotionless schemer.
The mystery behind the motivation for Montresor’s murder has been analyzed for over a century and there is no right or wrong answer, but if you need help with an essay or with homework there is a right answer! The experts at Studyfy have decades of experience helping students with their academic needs, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them.