Talk:The Cask of Amontillado

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The US Army story: apocryphal?[edit]

I see no other mention of the US Army version of the story when I Google for it. If this is apocryphal, I suggest it be removed. Jonathan Grynspan 01:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

As I wrote recently to someone else who asked me about it, it is not apocryphal. I read it in a sidebar to a version of the story in a McDougal Littell high-school English textbook; it in turn cited a Poe biography (although I can't remember which one; it wasn't recent, I don't think). Daniel Case 04:05, 10 January 2006 (UTC)


Sorry, but it's got apocryphal written all over it. I found a handful of references to it - here, here and here that strongly suggest it's at the level of local legend rather than historical fact. The variation in details is one clue that it's some kind of accreting urban myth: one says the guy was walled alive for cheating at cards, another says it was for shooting a fellow officer, the third says it was for stabbing him in a duel. The young officer is elsewhere called Massie, not Baillie; and the bullying captain John Foster (or Forster) rather than Joshua Green. But the most suspicious aspect is the lack of wider verifiability. Tearlach 13:03, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Origin
While a private in the Army stationed at Fort Independence outside Boston in 1827, Poe grew curious as to why a lieutenant, Robert Baillie, was buried on fort grounds with a gravestone celebrating his good friendship with many men. He learned from older veterans that the lieutenant had been very popular with his men and had many friends.
On Christmas Eve of 1817, the unit was playing cards while it celebrated the holiday, and a much less popular officer, Captain Joshua Green, suddenly accused Baillie of cheating him and demanded immediate satisfaction. He was an accomplished swordsman, and in the ensuing duel he ran Baillie through and killed him.
Later on his friends conspired to get the captain drunk and, just as in the story, tricked him into the lower dungeons of the fort where they, too, bricked him up to die. He was eventually listed as a deserter and no one save the men who had avenged their friend this way knew the truth.
In 1905, workers renovating the fort found a small room with no exit containing a chained human skeleton with shreds of an old Army uniform, confirming the story.
  • If as the biography suggests that this story was an act of revenge by Poe on a critic and a newspaper editor-he was more of a genius then has

been previously realized.

The story may be apocryphal, but the popular association of the two is not. e.g. I believe this should be in the article, but handled with NPOV and a big dose of skepticism. I don't think Wikipedia will ever get a better certainty (unless that 1905 skeleton anecdote bears out!), but that doesn't mean we can't include this information and explain it appropriately. --Dhartung | Talk 07:29, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

This story is featured in the book "Mysterious New England", by Edward Rowe Snow. It is certianly written in a way that suggests that is is apocryphal, and includes fanciful descriptions of details know one could possibly know. (It describes the night in which the officer is entombed as "moonless"). Still this is so closely associated with the tale that I second the motion that this story be included in the article, skepticism included.

Yep: I go with that. There's certainly plenty of solid evidence for the existence of the story and Poe's inspiration by it. Tearlach 00:26, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

In an attempt to provide requested citations, I have shortened the section on this legend to the details that I could verify. I am copying the whole section as I found it to the talk page here, in case some of these details can be verified, although from their narrative tone I doubt they can be.Jlittlet 03:16, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

The inspiration for "The Cask of Amontillado" allegedly came from a story Poe had heard at Fort Independence when he was a private there in 1827, though this cannot be confirmed.[citation needed]

Poe was fascinated with the inscriptions on a gravestone within the fort, specifically one marking the grave of Robert F. Massie. Poe learned that in 1817 Massie came to Fort Independence and became friends with many of the men; however, there was one officer, Captain Drane, who disliked him. Drane was the fort bully and was known as a dangerous swordsman.

Few officers were allowed to leave for Christmas, so on Christmas Eve, the officers left at the fort were playing cards. At the height of the card game, Captain Drane became angry and accused Massie of cheating. He started a duel and Drane, being the excellent swordsman that he was, ran Massie through. Massie died the next day.

Years later, a few officers decided to take a horrible revenge on Drane for Massie's death. They visited Drane one night, faking a friendly visit and got him drunk. Then, they carried the captain down to an ancient dungeon and forced his body into a small opening which led into the subterranean casemate in which they sealed Drane in with bricks and mortar. According to one account, Drane sobered up during the sealing, and unsuccessfully pleaded for mercy.[citation needed]

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was once asked where he got most of his material for his works. His reply: "From the newspapers" ----giving much credence to the idea that truth is more often stranger than any fiction. Early newspaper editors during Poe's lifetime often went far beyond the facts of the stories very often providing details of crimes rarely mentioned in lead stories today. Writers very often look for the "seed germ" for a story and build the plot around that seed. The seed for the story compared with the final masterpiece merits just that----the seed. The skill and creativity of the work surpass any background material used for the story----the final piece, as "The Cask of Amontillado," exists arguably as the finest short story ever written in the English language. As a noted critic said decades ago about the story, "Every word gives added twist to the irony of the initial situation." Compact, carefully delineated, markedly diabolical, syntactically perfect, and strangely foreboding, the tale wound a path to certain death for a very unfortunate antagonist. The crowning irony of the story resided in the fact that the cask of amontillado never existed----the ruse fooled the intoxicated Fortunato who even despite being a member of the Masonic Lodge, was deprived of life, liberty, property, clergy, and a Masonic burial. His last words were, "For the love of God, Montresor!"

"THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO" --------Poe's Perfect Crime

Montresor, the protagonist, committed the perfect crime of murder upon his antagonist, Fortunato. All of the typical pieces of evidence of a crime were rendered non-existent. There was no single eye witness, no murder weapon, no body, no blood, no scream escaped the catacombs, and no chance of discovering the body. In addition, no motive could be established, nor any opportunity could be dedeuced. Montresor waited 50 years to tell the story at which time there would be no worry of conviction.

Added a lil trivia

Vandalism?[edit]

No, it is NOT part of the story. I've re-read it, and could not find it anywere. I do believe it was vandalism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.159.147.61 (talk) 22:04, 13 September 2008 (UTC)


I removed this text, which I couldn't make sense of: "and the man once said "most people love with their heart,well to me i think we should love with our minds so we dont fall apart!" and everyone toasted to that..and then he went away to his home."

Was this part of another sentence that made sense somewhere else? If this is something useful, feel free to revert my changes.

Stories influenced by "The Cask of Amontillado"[edit]

Bullet please.100110100 03:16, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Montressor's Last Rites?[edit]

I've read somewhere that the narrator (montressor) is in the process of receiving his final rites. The story is a confession, to clean his soul before he dies. In the versions I've read, there are two lines that are italicized: "For the Love of God Montressor!" and "In pace requiescat." Montressor's motives behind his confession change when the italicized words are read as the voice of a priest (listening to Montressor's confession) rather than Fortunado. "For the Love of God, Montressor!" may have been the last words of Fortunado OR it could have been the voice of the priest expressing his horror at Montressor's confession. "In pace requiescat" could be Montressor's words to Fortunado OR it could be the priest's words to Montressor when he dies.

→ I don't think it's likely. If you were to take "For the love of God, Montresor!" out of the story line, as if a priest were saying it, why would his reply (to the priest) not be in italics as well? In addition to that, if he were saying In pace requiescat! to the priest, it would be in quotes, instead of like it is, without them, speaking to the reader. 4.244.171.117 20:48, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

It's very speculative anyway. It's a nice idea, but not WikiPedia-worthy. Midnightdreary 05:12, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Nemo me impune lacessit[edit]

We have an article on Nemo me impune lacessit. Should it not be mentioned in the article here? --Mais oui! 08:42, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Great call... I added it a few days ago based on your suggestion. Midnightdreary 05:04, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Works Influenced[edit]

The Works Influenced section has gotten a bit long. I'm thinking a massive edit is needed, converting the narratives to much more succinct bullet points. Any thoughts? Midnightdreary 05:04, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

  • I have added an OR tag to this section. Absent a reliable secondary source attesting that a particular story was inspired or influenced by TCoA, stating that such an influence or inspiration exists is speculation and original research. In addition, the section is bloating into a "spot the reference" pop culture segment, amounting to a trivia section which is to be avoided. Otto4711 17:22, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
I know these types of sections are problematic - but some of these can be salvaged. The only ones I would suggest are speculative are James Thurber, Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child and Arthur Conan Doyle. The others are fairly obvious and either use Poe's name (Martian Chronicles) or exact quotes that are definitive of the story which certainly aren't coincidental ("For the love of God, Robinson." "Yes, for the love of God."). It's up for debate, though. -Midnightdreary 17:30, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, and I argue that more than a few references can be removed. The only ones strictly relevant are those that specifically use Poe's name or exact quotes. All the rest "inspired by" are suspect. Merely walling up or burying someone alive is not sufficient to claim inspiration or reference to TCoA. Poe himself certainly did not invent the motif. Nuranar 13:17, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Analysis[edit]

Okay, here's the thing with the analysis. To avoid accusations of original research, every other sentence should have an in-line citation, referencing as many sources as possible. The large block quotes (which, I would argue, are unnecessary and should be paraphrased) should definitely be followed with an in-line citation. I'll wait on B9 hummingbird hovering, because these are your additions, it should be up to you to start adding citations. How many sources are you using, by the way? --Midnightdreary 01:43, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

One Source template tag has been added to the Analysis section. It would be nice if the editor who has been working on it would respond to my comments! :) I do have some questions... why is "sic" added throughout the block quote? Why are the block quotes even there? How is this single source so notable and relevant that it is used so extensively? I think this article is one of the closest relating to Poe to potential Good Article status, so let's make sure we're going about this the right way. I'm going to start adding further citation requests in the next day or two. --Midnightdreary 12:21, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

19th century Italy?[edit]

It is set in Italy, but the time is unknown. You can't just assume that the story is set in the 1800s because that is the time it was written or published. I think an unkonwn time, or something along those lines would fit better. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.113.98.113 (talk) 02:32, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Not a bad point. Because there is no clear date given, it probably shouldn't mention anything at all. I'll make the change. --Midnightdreary 03:25, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Montresor's coat of arms[edit]

Could it be that Montresor's arms show a scene from the Bible? It's in the story of Adam & Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden when God says to the snake "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (1 Mose 3, 15 New International Version) Maybe Poe was influenced by that scene; at least I've never encountered these arms anywhere else. ViennaUK (talk) 17:51, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Or it could be just a fictitious coat of arms. Really, it's not a bad theory or suggestion - but you'd need a more scholarly source to include it here, lest it be considered original research. --Midnightdreary (talk) 18:27, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Different Interpretation[edit]

I don't have a source for this yet, but my understanding of the story in relation to theme is not that it speaks out against drunkenness, but instead speaks out against revenge, showing the evil caused by Montresor's insanity and obsession. Has anyone else heard it this way? Does anyone have a source relating to this? Comments? JoeyETS (talk) 05:35, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

It speaks out against revenge?? Considering the story in relation to Thomas Dunn English, it doesn't seem like a believable interpretation. There are so many ways to interpret any story, but I would take that one with a grain of salt. In particular, scholars tend to point out the nearly complete lack of remorse Montresor has for his actions. Considering he literally gets away with murder, it hardly seems like a cautionary tale against revenge. Even so, if you find a source, toss it in here. --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:16, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

I have always thought that there is a clue in the name Fortunato - that it stands for - fortune - that Poe bitterly regretted the tragedies in his life, and created the story to represent how he would deal with "fortune" if he were to discover it embodied in a person. "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could....etc. Montressor has a cough; Poe saw his loved ones die of consumption. It seems to illustrate his —Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.103.10.67 (talk) 20:47, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Sounds persuasive, but, without a source, it also sounds like original research. If you have a source please cite it, as I'm really interested in seeing more on this. 67.71.2.203 (talk) 11:42, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Montresor's Family Motto[edit]

I believe that Montresor's family motto was probably borrowed from the British 42nd Highland Regiment, on whose cap badge it appears150.231.246.1 (talk) 15:31, 15 January 2008 (UTC) Wm. Snyder snydhack@yahoo.com

That's interesting. If you have a source that says that Poe may have been inspired by that particular regiment, feel free to add it in. Otherwise, it's just original research. --Midnightdreary (talk) 16:11, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Montressor[edit]

The word "Montressor" is not used anywhere in the article, yet it redirects here. You should either explain the term or delete the redirect. --Arctic Gnome (talkcontribs) 04:00, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Montresor (correct spelling) is the name of the main character in the story. My assumption is that someone created the redirect for the misspelling. --Midnightdreary (talk) 11:22, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
You're here because of the Questionable Content reference too, right? ;) Elmo iscariot (talk) 17:01, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

No motive, really?[edit]

Listen, I've read quite a bit of your stuff related to "The Casque" and you seem to be very on top of things. However, how you can support the theory that "Montresor's motive for murder is uncertain other than the vague "many injuries" to which he refers", I have no clue. The entire first paragraph in the story gives more the a simple explanation as to why Montresor has decided to do away with Fortunato. "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had born as best I could." That's "thousand" not "many" as you quote. And then to not give more credit to the guy who suggested the theory that Montresor was giving a confession, when within the next few lines Montresor the unarguable narrator of the story utters " You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance of a threat." To whom do you suggest he is talking to? God, a priest, or do you offer that it is the reader with whom Montresor relays his story? Then to give credit to the arbitrary and rather complacent theory that Montresor must be insane to have committed this murder is, for lack of a better word, a cop-out, especially when you consider the context of date and time within which the story was written, 1846 a period in time when insults were grounds for duels and death. Consider for a moment that in our own country (assuming that you live in the States) Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr dueled to the death not 42 years prior. Is it then so hard to consider that insult alone was motive? I think not.

Right, so there you have it. Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Alex Marvel University of Alaska —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dogwoodflowers (talkcontribs) 20:58, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

No need to be so aggressive. The Wikipedia project is based on verifiability, and you'll note that the majority of the analysis given in this article is sourced to reliable sources. It is not up to any of us to analyze this story (or any other) but to provide previously-published analysis. If you find sources that make the statements you made, feel free to add them. However, keep in mind that analysis is, by its very nature, unprovable and, as such, no theory is ever wrong or right. --Midnightdreary (talk) 21:37, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Connoisseur[edit]

"Though Fortunato is presented as a connoisseur of fine wine, his actions in the story make it questionable. For example, he becomes so drunk he would be unable to identify the Amontillado and treats De Grave, an expensive French wine, with very little regard by drinking it in a single gulp"

Why is it questionable? Connossieur doesn't always mean snob. Fortunado seemed the glutton to me in the story. Plus, it's also possible even a snob who has access to all the best wines might dipose of them in such a gulping fashion to prove the reverence belongs to his person, and not the wine. Perhaps it would be better to toss in a qualifier: "...some find his actions in the story questionable." That way it doesn't sound so, well, snobby. 24.163.127.19 (talk) 09:05, 20 November 2008 (UTC) DEL

Who said anything about being a snob? A true connoisseur of fine wine would not drink it down in a selfish gulp. Instead, they would savor the flavor slowly. --Midnightdreary (talk) 20:26, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree in principle with what the original contributor says. The implication by Midnightdreary that all connoisseurs of fine wine always drink wine slowly and savor it is extreme because it suggests that one subpopulation always behaves in exactly the same way, which is a very well known fallacy. Midnightdreary also doesn't cite any sources for his/her assertion. The original contributor also doesn't cite sources, but s/he uses reasoning to challenge an unreferenced statement in the article, and that's legitimate. I'm even against saying that "some" people claim something is true unless those people are identified, because otherwise there's no evidence that anyone says anything of the kind. 67.71.2.203 (talk) 11:49, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
This comment is from almost four years ago. The commentary on whether or not Fortunato is a connoisseur is sourced to an article from Poe Studies. Why do you think it is unreferenced? --Midnightdreary (talk) 01:31, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi, same guy as the IP above, but I've gotten an account in the meantime. :) I did a careful reading of the article in Poe Studies that is used as the reference you mention: [1]. The author appears to be a literary critic, and while he does provide references to wine experts, they relate strictly to the subject of what "Amontillado" is and not to the defining characteristics of a wine connoisseur. I question the author's qualifications to make assertions in that area. There is also question about source reliability as I don't see an article on Poe Studies and can't evaluate the magazine's reputation among relevant scholars. Finally, I am personally offended by the author's suggestion that Fortunato deserved to be buried alive because he behaved badly toward a bottle of fine wine, as that assertion strikes me as psychopathic. For all of those reasons I question the validity of the source. Guyovski (talk) 12:11, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Poe Studies is a premier journal for the Poe Studies Association, a group of scholars dedicated to the study of Poe and his works. It is a peer-edited journal and certainly qualifies as a reliable source. If you like, the line could easily read "Such and such scholar suggests..." --Midnightdreary (talk) 16:09, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
The qualification you suggest is pretty much exactly what the original contributor in this subsection asked for, although s/he did kind of use fighting words. I don't share that person's reasoning that it would be "less snobby" to say that (in that person's words) "some people say" or (in your words) "such and such scholar suggests" that Fortunato's connoisseurship is doubtful, and I don't think that matters. It would just make it seem like less of a timeless philosophical argument constructed in a vacuum and more like what it is, which is material drawn from a referenced statement. And if you review the thread of exchanges under this heading, I'm sure you can see that the confusion arose because the original contributor interpreted the existing text as making absolute claims about the nature of wine connoisseurs (which is an impression that your immediate reply to that person reinforced in my mind). That sort of thing is out of place in an article on a piece of short fiction, partly because it is fiction. So go ahead and make the edit or let me know whether you want me to do it. Guyovski (talk) 16:25, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Go ahead and give it a shot. No pun intended. --Midnightdreary (talk) 22:51, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Edit completed, although I forgot to log in first. Please note that I feel very strongly about including the last sentence of that revised paragraph. If you want it removed please let's discuss it first. Guyovski (talk) 00:20, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Looks fine to me. I don't necessarily see the need for that particular line personally; I can't tell if he was trying to be humorous or to show the level of serious dedication among connoisseurs. Thanks for joining the discussion here. --Midnightdreary (talk) 14:36, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Removing the "priest" theory[edit]

I removed this from the article:

One major question in this story is to whom Montresor is confessing this tale. Towards the beginning of the story, the narrator says, "Surely, you..." Who is the "you" being addressed? There are many hints that would suggest that it is a priest. First, the story takes place in Italy, the center of Catholicism. Also, at the end of the story, Montresor mentions that it has been fifty years since the murder, which would mean that he is very old. That could mean that Montresor is dying, on his death bed. Also, there are two sentences at the end that are italicized. The first is, "For the love of God, Montresor!" and the second is, "In pace requiescat." These sentences could be said by the obvious people, Fortunato and Montresor, respectively, or they could have been said by the priest. For the second sentence, if Montresor is saying it then he is expressing the lack of remorse for his murder. However, it could be the priest saying it. In this case, it would mean that Montresor had just died after getting his last rites.

First off, this is original research. Second, the italics are far more likely to be for the obvious reasons: Fortunato is speaking in italics because he's shouting, and "In pace requiescat" is in italics because it's in a foreign language, both of which are very common conventions. Moreover, the italics may have been added by somebody other than Poe (it wasn't exactly typical for writers to typeset their own documents in those days). It sounds to me that this priest theory is grasping at straws. It may be what Poe had in mind, but it doesn't seem likely enough to warrant inclusion. - furrykef (Talk at me) 07:19, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

You're right: this content was original research. There is no reason to attempt any dispute of it. Let's leave it out. --Midnightdreary (talk) 13:29, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

The Torch[edit]

What is the signifigance of Montresor dropping the burning torch through the gap?

"He listens for a reply but hears only the jester's bells ringing. Before placing the last stone, he drops a burning torch through the gap. He claims that he feels sick at heart, but dismisses this reaction as an effect of the dampness of the catacombs.
In the last few sentences, Montresor reveals that it has been 50 years since the murder, he has never been caught, and Fortunato's body still hangs from its chains in the niche where he left it. The murderer, seemingly unrepentant, ends the story by remarking: In pace requiescat (may he rest in peace)." -67.163.242.5 (talk) 01:32, 21 August 2009 (UTC)


That's subject to debate. I, for one, don't have a solid answer. --Midnightdreary (talk) 02:33, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Could be simply that Montresor wanted to expedite Fortunato's demise by throwing in the torch to deplete the breathable air. That's the only significance I've ever been able to come up for it. 71.75.195.12 (talk) 18:27, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

It's definitely not clear in the story. I think for the purpose of this article, what we have in the plot summary is fine as it seems to be the conventional reading of it. An alternative reading would need a source (my first internal thought is, how aware are people in the 1840s that fire consumes oxygen?). --Midnightdreary (talk) 21:03, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Montresor/Montressor[edit]

The narrator's name is usually given as "Montresor" (with a single s). In one instance in the tale's first publication in Godey's, towards the end, it is spelled "Montressor" (with a double s). As the single s version is more often used in the tale, in its future printings, and in all other discussions in scholarship, criticism, etc., this article should use the spelling Montresor (as it currently does). --Midnightdreary (talk) 00:33, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Request to nominate for B-Class[edit]

Right now this article looks pretty solid to me, although I'm no expert. Perhaps it should be considered for promotion to B-Class or even A-Class. Since I don't know how to do that myself, could someone who does know that make the nomination? 67.71.2.203 (talk) 12:11, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Reception[edit]

I would be interested in reading something as to how well the story sold originally, and its critical reviews, if any. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.82.125.102 (talk) 02:55, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

Contributions to Page[edit]

I plan on revising the plot summary of the story to make it more complete and accurate since there are holes in the plot summary as well as misinformation. There is also misinformation in the “analysis” section; I will correct this information and cite accordingly. User talk:Ejenn2 Ejenn2 (talk) 02:32, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

Sounds good. Remember to source like crazy in the "analysis" section, even if it's information with which you disagree. Also, regarding the plot summary: I caution editors to remember it is merely a brief synopsis, not a detail-by-detail rewriting of the story in its entirety. Not that I anticipated that from this particular editor, but less is often more. --Midnightdreary (talk) 18:44, 30 October 2014 (UTC)