Short Story Review: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe

The Cask of Amontillado features in Poe’s collection of short stories, Tales of Mystery and Imagination published in 1919, however, the story was first published in the November 1846 edition of Godey’s Lady Book, which was the most popular periodical at the time.

It’s a tale of terror starring two main characters: Montresor and Fortunato. Montresor is the narrator and the murder, Fortunato is the wine connoisseur and the victim.

The story begins with Montresor explaining that a man called Fortunato has wronged him a thousand times over, but his insult is the final blow that provoked the Montresor to vow revenge. He continues to assure us that he has given Fortunato no warning to the fact that he is planning to kill him and plans to use his knowledge of wine to lure him to his death.

I was unaware that a writer could have a perfect piece of writing, but this particular short story is known as Poe’s perfect piece, it has each piece of information, each step of the plot, being intentionally prepared and executed. Poe actually called this the unity of effect, where everything is relevant, especially each part of the plot.

What I learnt and will take forward with my writing is the way in which Poe writes Montresor as the unreliable narrator, because the Montresor has named himself to be judge, jury, and executioner of Fortunato, deciding his guilt and punishment without proof. His unreliability overrides the rational need for evidence. And I like that although carnivals can provide happiness, there is an allure of mystery, and provides the perfect setting with its abandonment of social order, for the murder.

Poe, E.A. (1846). The cask of amontillado. Retrieved from https://www.poemuseum.org/the-cask-of-amontillado

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