The Cask of Amontillado
By: Edgar Allan Poe
1)How cohesive and organized is his writing?
Edgar Allan Poe writes with a unique grotesque inventive style. Poe also includes a superb plot construction which hooks the reader at the very start because he sets up a situation which the fills the reader with anticipation to see what develops. In the first line of the story The Cask Of Amontillado(1846), he says, “…but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.” The first three paragraphs develops Montresor’s thinking and planning of what he intends to do to Fortunato. He informs the reader of many bits of information which develops Montresor’s plan, but in reality, the reader does not know the outcome until nearly the end of the story. His writing paints a very vivid picture for the reader. He organized the story so that we know right in the beginning what the story will be about, and what the reader is in for. In this case, Poe lets the reader know right away and throughout the story, that the probable outcome, will be Montresor getting revenge on Fortunato.
2)How readable and interesting is the style?
Poe’s style is interesting, but somewhat difficult to read in the beginning. At the start of the story, Poe develops the plot of the story in a difficult manner. For example, Poe writes, “It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.” He could have just said in simpler terms, the revenge has to make to him feel like Fortunato felt when he wronged him. Other than in the opening paragraphs, Poe writes simple and easy to follow sentences. As the story develops, Poe provides much detail for the readers to be able to paint a picture in their mind about everything from Fortunato’s outfit to the dampness and the niche on the walls of the vault.
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3)What tone and attitude are communicated?
This example of Poe’s writing depicts one of man’s greatest faults which is revenge. The story is all about one man being obsessed with getting even with another individual. Instead of just letting what happened in the past stay in the past, Montresor simple has to get back at Fortunato for the wrong that he did to him. This story plot is one in which still exists everywhere today. Revenge is something that just about everybody has done, or thinks about doing at one point in his life. Poe’s story contains a universal theme that anyone can relate with. He captures the essence of the old saying in this story, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” He states just that in the second paragraph, “I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.”
4)Do his images appeal to the senses?
I don’t really think that Poe uses many images to appeal to the senses. One image that though that may be considered to appeal to the senses was when they were both in the vault, and they were below the river’s bed. Poe writes, “The drops of moisture trickle among the bones.” He also stated at the entrance of the vault that the grounds of the vault were very damp. The reader can’t but help imagine the damp smell and the damp feeling on their skin as they read the descriptions of the vault.
5)What use does the author make of symbols and figurative language.
The strongest symbol that Poe uses in this story was at the point where Fortunato questions Montresor about really being a mason. To prove to Fortunato that he is, he pulls out a trowel. The trowel serves as a symbol for Fortunato’s death. It’s ironic that Fortunato is talking about the secret group of the masons, and Montresor is actually a real mason. Another symbol may be the skeletons along the walls and floors. It makes the reader think that Fortunato will soon be an addition to all of those skeletons. One symbol that is recurring throughout the story are the bells on Fortunato’s hat. Throughout the story, Poe writes about the bells such as, “The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingles.” It’s interesting though that at the end of the story when Montresor calls out to the chained Fortunato, “There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells.” It makes it seem like Fortunato shakes his head and accepts his sealed fate. Poe also includes a couple of lines which at first reading seem like nothing, but after further review become essential instruments in foreshadowing. The first one is in lines 92-93 which has Fortunato saying, “…the cough’s a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.” It’s extremely ironic that he says such a statement because in one aspect he’s right, but he’s only a few moments away from death anyway. The cough is not going to kill him, but Montresor is. The second line that serves as foreshadowing is lines 102-103. It’s when both men are making a toast, and Fortunato says, “I drink to the buried that repose around us. Montresor wisely answers him, “And I to your long life.” This scene is ironic as well because Fortunato is making a toast to what he is about to become, one of the buried that repose around them. Fortunato’s answer is ironic as well because as he cheers to Fortunato’s long life, he is also planning on taking that life in the near future. One last aspect of the story which is quite ironic is the name of Fortunato. Fortunato means fortunate in Italian, and it’s seems like a twisted play on words that the fortunate character is everything but fortunate.
6)What types of punctuation’s prevail?
What Poe uses predominantly in his story are two dashes, mainly because the story is mostly dialogue. He uses two dashes to give the sentence a break, and to add more emphasis on what’s following it. What Poe also does a few times is combine the two dashes, a semicolon, and a comma in the same couple of sentences to break and connect everything. A good example of this can be found in lines 4-6. The semicolon separates the first part and the middle part of the sentence, but Poe uses it there because both sentences before and after the semicolon are very closely related. The sentence after the semicolon supports and
solidifies the idea in the sentence before the semicolon which is vengeance. The comma is the next punctuation in the set of sentences, and it’s there to put emphasis on the word, “definitely,” and to put more emphasis on what Montresor is going to do with Fortunato, settle things. Poe connects the last part of the sentence with the two dashes, and the last sentence states the manner in how he is going to go through what he stated in the previous two sentences. Poe does this a few times throughout the story, and it adds a great deal to his style. Another example of Poe using a combination of the punctuations is in line 21. He uses a semicolon and two dashes to give a break and separate the two sentences because in the sentence before the punctuation he is describing Fortunato, and the following sentence he compares himself to Fortunato. This is a good example of a balanced sentence. Poe uses just semicolons as well, and his purpose behind that is to explain or to support the first part of the sentence. An example of this can be found in line 62 where the first part he states that no one is home, and after the semicolon, he explains why no one is home. He also two dashes in the dialogue, but he usually does it when someone is interrupted while speaking, or to make the speaker hesitate before saying the next word. Poe uses commas as well to separate sentences and repetitive things like in lines 191-192, and in 196-197. He uses commas to separate the number of tiers that he is lining up to seal Fortunato’s life. Poe uses question marks as well whenever there’s is a question involved, and the same goes for the exclamation mark. The exclamation mark becomes very noticeable at the end of the story. After line 216 until the very last sentence, the exclamation point is very prominent. Everything picks up because all the secrets are out, and both men are very excited because one is about to be sealed in a catacomb forever, and the other finally has accomplished something that he has been contemplating for a long time.
7)How long and variable are the sentences?
Poe varies the length of the sentences greatly in the story. He fluctuates so much with the sentence lengths because of all of the dialogue that he put in this story. The typical sentence though ranges from four words (ll. 38) to thirty-three word (ll. 59-61). The thirty-three word sentence contains two commas, and a semicolon. In The Cask of Amontillado, Poe keeps most sentences short, mainly because of the dialogue, but the longer sentences are kept readable with breaks provided by the commas, and the semicolons.
8)Does the author tend toward loose(cumulative), periodic. or balanced sentences?
Poe tends to write in a cumulative sentence manner because he begins a sentence with a general point, and the rest of the sentence supports, or describes the point in the first half of the sentence. Poe also uses balanced sentences to compare Montresor with Fortunato in lines 21-22. This balanced sentence demonstrates how similar the two really are.
9)Is the author sensitive to the rhythmic flow of language and phrase structure?
Poe does write in a rhythm which is one where it begins slow to get your attention, then he picks up the pace. His sentences are not very long, and the description he provides are helpful for you to get even more wrapped up in the story. The dialogue provides extremely short sentences which picks up the rhythm to a furious pace to see what the other character is going to do or say next. The description of action by the characters is very vivid and descriptive which makes for the rhythm to pick up again to see if they are actually going to go through with the action. “I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chains.” What Poe also uses to help the flow of the language is repetitive use of words. Examples of this can be found in lines 37-41, and in lines 228-230.
10)What uses does the author make of parallel structure of phrases and clauses? What uses does he make of repetition of words and sounds?
;#9;Repetition can be found in such examples such as, “Ugh,” “Ha, Ha, Ha,” and, “For the love of God,” near the end. Luchresi cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado and sporadic mentionings of his name. What also is obvious is this story is the constant repetition of “Amontillado” by Fortunato.
11)How rich is the texture of his sentence? Does his style abound in modifying
structures? Are these mainly free?
;#9;The texture of this story is basically made up of a series of prepositional phrases that can be found in his descriptive and narrative passages. There is also use of interrupters as in, “One evening during the supreme madness of…” What also can be found is some adverbial clauses and some other adverbial segments.
12)Are the words and structures commonly anticipated or freshly different?
Poe writes in a manner that is freshly different. He likes to build importance and emphasis, and explanation on certain aspects or ideas by making the reader pause, by using many double dashes and semicolons, before continuing on to the determining part of the sentence. One example is in line 77 where Montresor answers Fortunato’s curiosity about the pipe. Poe starts a quote by Montresor, then separates it with a, “said I,” then continues on with the quote with a semicolon instead of a comma. He wanted to add an extra long pause because he wanted to make it obvious that Montresor was changing the subject about where the pipe was. Poe does something similar in line 95.
13)What prevailing patterns of phrases and clauses are evident?
The prevailing patterns of phrases and clauses that are evident are the many prepositional phrases. There are many phrases often embellished with assorted modifiers as well as a number of adverbial clauses and relative clauses. Some of the nominal clauses tend to be more subordination than coordination.
14)What parts of speech are significant?
The parts of speech that are significant include prepositions, concrete nouns, and adjectives such as, “often” and, “vivid.” Imperatives can also be found in examples like, “come.”
15)Anything else of note?
Edgar Allan Poe did an excellent job portraying in this story a timeless problem which everybody has confronted or will be confronted with, revenge. What Poe leaves to the imagination is what did Fortunato do to Montresor that has him so filled with anger and vengeance. From one line in the story, the reader can only guess the severity of the wrong. The line is 88 and it is Montresor talking to Fortunato and he said, “You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was.” Poe slips this line in subtly, but it is a line which leaves the reader guessing if it was Fortunato who took all that away from Montresor. Other than that, Poe wrote a gripping and addicting story in The Cask Of Amontillado.