As friend prepare because that the AP literature exam, one of the things you’ll need to do is end up being an expert in a couple of literary functions that you can use top top the composition section of the exam. Us recommend the you pick four to 5 notable works with different genres and also themes come make sure you have the right to write an impressive student choice essay.

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(Actually...practicing examining literature will assist you ~ above the whole exam, not simply the composed portion, so it’s a win-win situation!)

But just due to the fact that these works need to be “notable” with “literary merit” doesn’t mean they should be boring, too! That’s why we’re talking around Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cask the Amontillado,” as a an excellent choice for her AP exam. Not just is that widely known as wonderful piece the literature, it’s acquired a little of everything: horror! Suspense! A surprised twist! and also as an included’s short.

To lug you approximately speed, we’ll start with “The Cask that Amontillado” summary, then we’ll jump right into character and also thematic analyses. By the time you end up this article, you’ll have the ability to write fearlessly around “The Cask that Amontillado” on your AP exam.


A picture of Edgar Allan Poe.

Historical Background: that Was Edgar Allen Poe?

Critics consider Edgar Allan Poe to it is in the dad of the detective story (thanks to “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which predates the Sherlock Holmes story by more than 50 years!) and a pioneer that the American brief story.

But despite his literature success, Edgar Allan Poe’s life was marked by tragedy. Orphaned simply a year ~ his bear in 1809, Poe was taken in by John and also Frances Allan (who weren’t blood relatives). Frances Allan and Poe combated often, commonly over money, and also Poe would certainly flirt with poverty throughout his life...especially after that was reduced out of john Allan’s will.

Poe tried to walk to college yet couldn’t pay for it, so he dropped out. This was a blessing in disguise, because it kicked turn off Poe’s creating career. sustained by both his passion and the death of his enlarge brother, Poe moved earlier to Baltimore to become a permanent writer. There, that married his cousin—Virginia Clemm—who was just 13 at the moment of the marriage. (Poe was 26!)

By all accounts, the pair was happy till Virginia’s fatality thirteen years later. Poe would never recover from her death and also would pass away 2 years later, shortly after transforming 40 years old.

Poe’s life can have been short, but his writing has lived on. Although Poe to be a poet, literature critic, essayist, quick story writer, and also novelist, the is most popular today because that his grisly stories of terror and the macabre. Most that Poe’s works fall into the Gothic genre, which is characterized by a sense of terror, doubt, and the uncanny. The genre was exceptionally popular in the 18th and also 19th centuries, and also Poe’s writing would make him among the best-known authors of Gothic horror.

Here"s what amontillado look at like!

The Cask that Amontillado elevator

“The Cask the Amontillado” is among Poe’s many famous quick stories, and it was originally published in 1846 in Godey’s Lady Book, the most renowned periodical in the United claims at that time.

Though scholars aren’t 100 percent sure what inspired Poe’s brief story, many believe it’s based upon a story the heard if stationed at ft Independence in Massachusetts in 1827. At the time, fort Independence had actually a statue of sublieutenant Robert Massie, who had actually been eliminated in a sword duel following a card game, on the premises. As legend has it, after Massie’s death, various other soldiers took revenge top top his murderer by obtaining him drunk and also permanently sealing that in a vault...alive.

A an ext popular concept is that Poe composed “The Cask that Amontillado” in response come his personal rival, Thomas Dunn English, who had actually written a scathing critique of among Poe’s novels. “The Cask of Amontillado” skewers aspects from English’s novel, 1844, including making recommendations to the same secret societies and also subterranean vaults featured in English’s work.

Others believe that “The Cask of Amontillado” was inspired not by a person, but by a widespread are afraid of being buried alive. Because medication was in the infancy, sometimes coma victims were assumed to it is in dead and also were hidden accordingly, only to awake in their coffins work later. World started inventing easy-open coffins, burial vaults with windows, and also even coffins v breathing tube attached come save world who to be prematurely buried. And also of course, the fear of being buried alive—only to dice in your very own coffin—is echoed in the plot the “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Regardless of what influenced Poe to write “The Cask the Amontillado,” the truth remains that this quick story remains among his most famous and enduring functions of Gothic terror.


The Cask of Amontillado an overview

Now that you understand a small bit about the lift of Poe’s short story, let’s take it a look in ~ the plot of the text. (You can uncover a free, legit copy that “The Cask of Amontillado” virtual by click here.)

The Story Begins

Poe’s short story in reality takes ar in two time periods. The mass of the occasions occur on the night that Carnaval, i beg your pardon is a western Christian celebration that takes place prior to Lent. Carnival is a celebration of excess—of food, drink, and fun—before the restriction of the Lenten season sets in before Easter. (In the united States, the Carnival season is better known together Mardi Gras.)

But the story is told in retrospect by the narrator, Montresor, fifty years after the event to an unknown listener (only referred to as “you” in the story). That way that there space actually two various time frames continue in “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Setting the Trap

Readers find out that Montresor is planning to take revenge top top his one-time friend, Fortunato. Readers never learn exactly what Fortunato has done come Montresor to push him over the edge, only that Montresor feels the is the victim the a “thousand injuries” and one unnamed “insult” he should avenge. Readers likewise learn that Montresor has hidden his fury in order to convince Fortunato that they are still friends—which is all component of his plan.

On the night of Carnival, Montresor puts his arrangement into action. That knows the Fortunato considers self a wine connoisseur, therefore Montresor no surprised that Fortunato is currently drunk as soon as he find him in the center of the Carnival celebration.

Montresor tells him about a pipe, or around 130 gallons, the Amontillado he bought. (Amontillado is a good sherry wine.) but now the he has actually the wine, Montresor is afraid that he was duped. He tells Fortunato that he to be on his way to uncover Luchresi—another wine connoisseur—to help him identify the wine’s authenticity.

Entering the Vaults

Montresor’s ploy works. Montresor knows that Fortunato is full of himself, and also the idea the someone might judge the Amontillado pricks his ego. As a result, Fortunato insists on checking the Amontillado himself.

Montresor half-heartedly tries to dissuade Fortunato, telling him the going into the catacombs, or underground vaults whereby generations that the Montresor family members are buried, will worsen Fortunato’s head cold. Fortunato waves turn off Montresor’s concerns, saying that he “shall no die the a cough,” and he complies with him into the vaults to taste the Amontillado anyway.

As the men endeavor further right into the dark, secret passageways, Montresor renders sure that Fortunato keeps drinking. Fortunato asks around the Montresor family’s cloak of arms, and also Montresor speak him that their household motto is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” or “no one attacks me through impunity.” Fortunato is therefore drunk that he misses the warning in Montresor’s words, and instead asks even if it is Montresor is a member the the masons, a fraternity with an elite membership. Montresor says yes and holds increase a mason’s trowel, implying that he’s a literal mason instead.

Fortunato think Montresor is joking, and also by the time they arrive at the niche whereby Montresor claims he’s stored the Amontillado, he’s also drunk to notice that yes no alcohol inside. He doesn’t also resist together Montresor chains him to the wall.

The end of Fortunato

Montresor climate reveals the bricks and mortar he has actually stored in the vault, and also he begins to wall surface up the opening to the niche...with Fortunato chained inside. The process is a lengthy one, and also Montresor defines Fortunato’s fearful cries and also attempts come pull totally free from the chains. But Montresor is determined, and he litter a lit torch into the niche with Fortunato prior to he finishes walling him in alive.

By this point, Fortunato is panicked. He’s screaming because that help, yet the pair space so far underground that there’s no one to hear him. The tries come appeal to Montresor’s logic, saying that he’ll be missed by “Lady Fortunato and the rest.” Montresor is unmoved, finishes sealing increase the vault, and also leaves Fortunato there to die.

Montresor finishes his story by telling the listener the there Fortunato’s bones remain, fifty years later.



“The Cask of Amontillado” personality Analysis

Read on for an in-depth evaluation of the major characters in “The Cask that Amontillado.”


Fortunato’s name way “the fortunate one” in Italian, i beg your pardon is ironic provided that he end up bricked in ~ the Montresor catacombs and left come die. This is simply one example of the dramatic irony the permeates the short story.

Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something the one or much more of the characters don’t know. In this case, readers recognize what Montresor plans to do, however Fortunato continues to be ignorant. This creates tension in the brief story. As a reader, you desire to yell in ~ Fortunato to run away, yet you can’t. The thrill that “The Cask that Amontillado” comes from knowing precisely what will certainly happen and also being powerless to protect against it.

Other than the reality that he appears to have wronged Montresor somehow, readers find out very small about Fortunato directly. Everything we know around his personality we need to infer indigenous Montresor’s explanation of Fortunato and also his actions.

For example, we know Fortunato think he and also Montresor space friends, and also they most likely were at one point. However we likewise know the Fortunato is “rich, respected, admired, beloved,” and happy, follow to Montresor, in ~ least. But he also seems to it is in egotistical and also self-indulgent; he drink to excess, has no qualms talking badly about other people (like Luchresi), and also thinks he is the finest wine connoisseur around.

Ultimately, even if it is or no Fortunato’s personality flaws are sufficient to warrant Fortunato’s fate is up for reader to decide.


Montresor is the key character that “The Cask of Amontillado,” and the story is said in first person native his perspective. like Fortunato, readers know very small about Montresor’s backstory exterior of what they deserve to infer native the text. Because that example, Poe suggests that Montresor appears to come indigenous money—he resides in a palazzo, i beg your pardon is usually an Italian palace, which has its very own crypt.

But Montresor’s actions tell readers even more about his character. First, he’s driven by revenge. He doesn’t take it insults lightly, and he’s able come nurse a grudge to severe degree. He’s also witty—he makes double entendres around Fortunato’s fatality that the latter never catches—and knows how to arrangement ahead, too.

But most importantly, he lacks remorse. At the finish of the story, Montresor ends through an exclamation, “In pace requiescat,” which means “rest in peace.” Montresor is proud that what he is done...and also prouder that he hasn’t to be caught. Together a result, his final wish for Fortunato comes across as sarcastic fairly than sincere.

All the this together provides readers concern Montresor’s role in the story. in ~ the beginning, the seems prefer he’s the protagonist: he is a guy who’s been terribly wronged trying to find revenge. But by the end of the story, it’s no clear even if it is Montresor is the story’s hero...or that villain.


Luchresi never appears in the story, yet he theatre a critical role in Montresor’s plan. Luchresi is clearly one that Fortunato’s rivals, if not in reality, then at the very least when it involves his field of expertise in wine.

Montresor dram this rivalry to his advantage. He keeps pointing out Luchresi’s surname to motivate Fortunato and keep that interested in the Amontillado, especially since he’s drunk and his fist keeps wavering. (Keep in mind the Luchresi is an chaste bystander in every one of this—Montresor is simply borrowing his name and also reputation.) Poe offers the point out of Luchresi’s surname to repeat Fortunato—and the readers—what’s happening.

Unnamed Listener

Like we pointed out earlier, “The Cask of Amontillado” is a story told in retrospect. An older Montresor is speaking to an unnamed listener, recounting just how he eliminated Fortunato in revenge.

Readers understand nothing about the listener, just that he is Montresor’s audience in informing the story. But from an analysis standpoint, the listener is important. It reminds us that Montresor is telling this story to who else, and also in act so, make the efforts to communicate his personal perspective. It makes readers inquiry whether Montresor is telling the whole truth, too. Was Fortunato yes, really as bad as Montresor says he was, because that example? since the story is told native Montresor’s perspective—and most likely with an agenda in mind—readers room left wonder if Montresor’s account is entirely accurate.


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The 3 an essential The Cask the Amontillado Themes

“The Cask the Amontillado" is taken into consideration one the Poe’s finest short stories, and with good reason: that melds tension, horror, and surprise together masterfully. Yet what room the messages of Poe’s story? stop look at 3 of significant themes that “The Cask that Amontillado” below.

The Unreliability of Perception

Think the a time the you go something girlfriend knew your parents would punish friend for. Once you described the case to your parents, how did you execute it? much more than likely, friend tried to downplay her actions (without lying!) to do the after-effects a tiny less severe.

This is a great example of just how perspective matters. For your parents, what you did is a severe offense. However if you could just sell a different perspective top top things, perhaps you won’t be base for quite so long!

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” readers room presented through Montresor’s perspective of the story. the tells readers he’s been wronged—for what, he no say—and paints one unflattering snapshot of Fortunato. Even though Montresor states he’s rich and also well liked, Fortunato’s actions do him seem like a stuck-up, overindulgent idiot.

But is the accurate? because we only obtain Montresor’s side of the story, it’s tough to know. It’s as much as the leader to decide just how reliable, or trustworthy, Montresor is together a narrator. Do we believe him and also his dispute that death Fortunato to be the only means to have actually his revenge? Or is Montresor just a cold-blooded killer?

By do the readers ask these questions, Poe draws attention to the idea that people’s separation, personal, instance perspectives ~ above a situation aren’t have to 100 percent accurate.

The danger of proud

Although Montresor is responsible because that Fortunato’s death, the latter has a hand in sealing his very own coffin, too.

Even though he’s drunk and also sick, the point out of Luchresi’s name triggers Fortunato’s huge ego. The idea the anyone might be far better than him—especially Luchresi, who can’t “tell Amontillado from sherry”—drives that to monitor Montresor into the catacombs. Regardless of wanting to death Fortunato, Montresor gives his victim many chances to turn back. Montresor cites Fortunato’s cough, saying the it can be best to ask because that Luchresi’s help instead.

But every time, Fortunato says he wants to push forward due to the fact that he cannot stand Luchresi obtaining credit because that determining even if it is the Amontillado is authentic. It’s his proud that provides him desire to beat Luchresi, yet in the end, the his proud that renders him lose.

The power of Revenge

Perhaps the scariest element of “The Cask of Amontillado” is how far Montresor goes for revenge. In numerous ways, what Fortunato has done come warrant Montresor’s wrath is immaterial; Poe is much more interested in how revenge drives a male to extremes.

In this case, the clear that Fortunato’s viewed wrongs have overcame Montresor’s thoughts and actions. His plan to kill Fortunato is extremely premeditated: he’s plainly put a many thought into exactly how he will execute it, right down to making certain he has actually bricks and mortar handy to entomb Fortunato alive.

This is not a spur-of-the-moment, in-the-heat-of-passion action. No, Montresor has actually thought long and hard around his plan.

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Given this, Poe reflects readers how an effective the need for revenge have the right to be. Not only have the right to it drive human being to extremes, it deserve to warp their feeling of reason, too. After all, quick of murder, what insult might Fortunato have ceded to warrant together a gruesome death? can it be the Montresor’s desire for vengeance, fairly than Fortunato"s actions, space what enables Montresor to justify murder?

Ultimately, since the whole story is created from Montresor’s perspective, Poe doesn’t provide readers any kind of clear answers. Yet in law so, Poe likewise shows exactly how the fact is regularly obscured by people’s perceptions and also motivations.


Now What?

It’s good that she preparing for the composition component of the AP literary works exam, but don’t forget that there’s a multiple choice section, too. Acquire the skinny on the multiple selection section—and exactly how to ace it!—here.

One of the ideal ways to practice for any type of exam is come take practice tests. Did you recognize that there are exercise exams for AP tests, too? here’s a perform of exercise tests for the AP literary works exam that you have the right to take to assist you research smarter.

Now that you’re fine on your method to taking an AP English exam, why not try your hand at some various other AP tests? here’s a considerable list of all the AP classes and also tests you have the right to take to aid earn credit transaction for college.