As you prepare because that the AP literary works exam, one of the things you’ll have to do is become an skilled in a couple of literary functions that you deserve to use on the composition section of the exam. We recommend that you select four to 5 notable works with different genres and themes come make certain you can write an remarkable student selection essay.

You are watching: Which plot technique is used in this excerpt from “the cask of amontillado” by edgar allan poe?

(Actually...practicing evaluating literature will aid you on the whole exam, not simply the created portion, therefore it’s a win-win situation!)

But just because these works have to be “notable” with “literary merit” doesn’t mean they have to be boring, too! That’s why we’re talking about Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado,” as a good choice for your AP exam. Not only is the widely well-known as terrific piece that literature, it’s got a tiny of everything: horror! Suspense! A surprised twist! and also as an included’s short.

To carry you approximately speed, we’ll begin with “The Cask that Amontillado” summary, climate we’ll jump right into character and thematic analyses. By the time you end up this article, you’ll be able to write fearlessly around “The Cask the Amontillado” on your AP exam.


A photo of Edgar Allan Poe.

Historical Background: that Was Edgar Allen Poe?

Critics take into consideration Edgar Allan Poe to it is in the father of the detective story (thanks to “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which precedes the Sherlock Holmes stories by an ext than 50 years!) and a pioneer of the American short story.

But in spite of his literary success, Edgar Allan Poe’s life was significant by tragedy. Orphaned simply a year ~ his bear in 1809, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan (who no blood relatives). Frances Allan and Poe fought often, commonly over money, and Poe would certainly flirt with poverty throughout his life...especially after the was cut out of man Allan’s will.

Poe make the efforts to go to college but couldn’t pay for it, so the dropped out. This was a blessing in disguise, because it kicked off Poe’s creating career. sustained by both his passion and the fatality of his enlarge brother, Poe moved earlier to Baltimore to come to be a full time writer. There, he married his cousin—Virginia Clemm—who was simply 13 at the time of the marriage. (Poe to be 26!)

By every accounts, the pair was happy until Virginia’s death thirteen years later. Poe would never ever recover from her death and would happen away 2 years later, quickly after turning 40 year old.

Poe’s life might have to be short, however his writing has lived on. Although Poe to be a poet, literature critic, essayist, quick story writer, and also novelist, that is most well-known today because that his grisly story of terror and the macabre. Most the Poe’s works autumn 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 19th centuries, and also Poe’s writing would certainly make him among the best-known authors of Gothic horror.

Here"s what amontillado looks like!

The Cask that Amontillado lift

“The Cask that Amontillado” is one of Poe’s most famous short stories, and also it was initially published in 1846 in Godey’s Lady Book, the most famous periodical in the United says at that time.

Though scholars aren’t 100 percent certain what inspired Poe’s brief story, many believe it’s based on a story that heard while stationed at fort Independence in Massachusetts in 1827. At that time, ft Independence had actually a frosting of sublievenant Robert Massie, who had actually been eliminated in a knife duel adhering to a map game, on the premises. As legend has it, after ~ Massie’s death, other soldiers take it revenge ~ above his murderer by getting him drunk and also permanently sealing that in a vault...alive.

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

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

Regardless the what motivated Poe to create “The Cask the Amontillado,” the truth remains that this quick story remains among his many famous and enduring works of Gothic terror.


The Cask that Amontillado an overview

Now the you understand a little bit around the lift of Poe’s short story, let’s take it a look in ~ the plot the the text. (You can find a free, legal copy the “The Cask that Amontillado” digital by clicking here.)

The Story Begins

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

But the story is called in retrospect by the narrator, Montresor, fifty year after the event to one unknown listener (only described as “you” in the story). That means that there are actually two various time frames happening in “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Setting the Trap

Readers learn that Montresor is plan to take it revenge top top his one-time friend, Fortunato. Readers never learn exactly what Fortunato has actually done come Montresor to press him end the edge, only that Montresor feels that is the victim the a “thousand injuries” and one unnamed “insult” he should avenge. Readers likewise learn the Montresor has hidden his rage in order to convince Fortunato that they room still friends—which is all part of his plan.

On the night that Carnival, Montresor put his plan into action. That knows that Fortunato considers himself a alcohol connoisseur, so Montresor no surprised that Fortunato is already drunk as soon as he find him in the middle of the Carnival celebration.

Montresor tells him about a pipe, or about 130 gallons, of Amontillado that bought. (Amontillado is a good sherry wine.) but now the he has the wine, Montresor is afraid that he was duped. He tells Fortunato the he to be on his method to discover Luchresi—another wine connoisseur—to aid 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 that someone might judge the Amontillado pricks his ego. As a result, Fortunato insists on check the Amontillado himself.

Montresor half-heartedly tries come dissuade Fortunato, telling him that going into the catacombs, or secret vaults whereby generations the the Montresor household are buried, will worsen Fortunato’s head cold. Fortunato waves off Montresor’s concerns, saying that he “shall not die the a cough,” and he complies with him right into the vaults to taste the Amontillado anyway.

As the men venture further right into the dark, underground passageways, Montresor makes sure that Fortunato keeps drinking. Fortunato asks about the Montresor family’s cloak of arms, and also Montresor speak him the their family members motto is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” or “no one strikes me v impunity.” Fortunato is for this reason drunk that he misses the warning in Montresor’s words, and also instead asks whether Montresor is a member of the masons, a fraternity with an elite membership. Montresor says yes and also holds increase a mason’s trowel, implying the he’s a literal meaning mason instead.

Fortunato think Montresor is joking, and by the moment they come at the niche where Montresor claims he’s save on computer the Amontillado, he’s as well drunk to notification that yes no wine inside. He doesn’t even resist as Montresor chain him to the wall.

The end of Fortunato

Montresor climate reveals the bricks and also mortar he has stored in the vault, and he begins to wall surface up the opened to the niche...with Fortunato chained inside. The process is a lengthy one, and also Montresor describes Fortunato’s fearful cries and also attempts come pull cost-free from the chains. But Montresor is determined, and also he throws a lit torch right into the niche through Fortunato prior to he finishes walling that in alive.

By this point, Fortunato is panicked. He is screaming because that help, however the pair are so much underground the there’s no one to listen him. That tries to appeal to Montresor’s logic, saying the he’ll it is in missed by “Lady Fortunato and also the rest.” Montresor is unmoved, finishes sealing up the vault, and leaves Fortunato over there to die.

Montresor finishes his story by informing the listener that there Fortunato’s skeletal remain, fifty years later.



“The Cask the Amontillado” character Analysis

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


Fortunato’s name way “the fortunate one” in Italian, i m sorry is ironic given that he end up bricked in ~ the Montresor catacombs and also left to die. This is just one example of the dramatic irony that permeates the short story.

Dramatic irony is once the leader knows something the one or an ext of the characters don’t know. In this case, readers know what Montresor plans come do, however Fortunato continues to be ignorant. This creates stress in the quick story. As a reader, you want to yell at Fortunato to operation away, yet you can’t. The thrill that “The Cask the Amontillado” originates from knowing precisely what will happen and also being powerless to avoid it.

Other 보다 the truth that he seems to have actually wronged Montresor somehow, readers learn very tiny about Fortunato directly. Everything we know around his character we have to infer native Montresor’s descriptions of Fortunato and also his actions.

For example, we know Fortunato thinks he and also Montresor room friends, and they most likely were in ~ one point. But we likewise know that Fortunato is “rich, respected, admired, beloved,” and also happy, follow to Montresor, in ~ least. However he likewise seems to be egotistical and self-indulgent; he drink to excess, has actually no qualms talk badly about other human being (like Luchresi), and also thinks he’s the finest wine connoisseur around.

Ultimately, whether or no Fortunato’s character flaws are sufficient to warrant Fortunato’s fate is increase for readers to decide.


Montresor is the key character of “The Cask that Amontillado,” and also the story is called in an initial person native his perspective. choose Fortunato, readers recognize very little about Montresor’s backstory external of what they can infer from the text. Because that example, Poe suggests that Montresor seems to come native money—he resides in a palazzo, which is usually an Italian palace, which has its very own crypt.

But Montresor’s action tell readers even much more about his character. First, he’s propelled by revenge. The doesn’t take it insults lightly, and also he’s able to nurse a grudge to severe degree. He’s additionally witty—he makes dual entendres about Fortunato’s death that the latter never catches—and knows just how to plan ahead, too.

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

All of this together renders readers inquiry Montresor’s role in the story. in ~ the beginning, that seems prefer he’s the protagonist: he’s a male who’s been terribly wronged trying to find revenge. However by the end of the story, it’s not clear even if it is Montresor is the story’s hero...or its villain.


Luchresi never shows up in the story, yet he theatre a vital role in Montresor’s plan. Luchresi is plainly one of 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. The keeps pointing out Luchresi’s surname to motivate Fortunato and also keep him interested in the Amontillado, especially because he’s drunk and also his fist keeps wavering. (Keep in mind the Luchresi is an chaste bystander in all of this—Montresor is simply borrowing his name and reputation.) Poe supplies the point out of Luchresi’s name to repeat Fortunato—and the readers—what’s happening.

Unnamed Listener

Like we discussed earlier, “The Cask the Amontillado” is a story told in retrospect. An enlarge Montresor is speaking to one unnamed listener, recounting how he killed Fortunato in revenge.

Readers understand nothing around the listener, just that he’s Montresor’s audience in informing the story. But indigenous an analysis standpoint, the listener is important. That reminds united state that Montresor is informing this story to who else, and in law so, do the efforts to communicate his personal perspective. It renders readers inquiry whether Montresor is telling the entirety truth, too. To be Fortunato yes, really as negative 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 are left wondering if Montresor’s account is totally accurate.


Brandon Heyer/Flickr

The 3 vital The Cask the Amontillado Themes

“The Cask the Amontillado" is considered one of Poe’s best short stories, and with great reason: that melds tension, horror, and also surprise together masterfully. Yet what room the messages of Poe’s story? stop look at three of major themes the “The Cask of Amontillado” below.

The Unreliability of Perception

Think the a time that you walk something you knew your parents would punish girlfriend for. Once you explained the case to her parents, just how did you carry out it? much more than likely, you tried come downplay your actions (without lying!) to make the after-effects a little less severe.

This is a great example of just how perspective matters. For her parents, what friend did is a serious offense. But if you could just sell a various perspective on things, maybe you i will not ~ be base for quite so long!

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

But is the accurate? due to the fact that we only gain Montresor’s next of the story, it’s tough to know. It’s as much as the leader to decide exactly how reliable, or trustworthy, Montresor is together a narrator. Carry out we think him and his argument that killing Fortunato to be the only way to have actually his revenge? Or is Montresor simply a cold-blooded killer?

By make the readers ask this questions, Poe draws fist to the idea that people’s separation, personal, instance perspectives ~ above a instance aren’t necessarily 100 percent accurate.

The risk of proud

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

Even though he’s drunk and sick, the cite of Luchresi’s surname triggers Fortunato’s enormous ego. The idea the anyone could be far better than him—especially Luchresi, who can’t “tell Amontillado from sherry”—drives that to follow Montresor right into the catacombs. Regardless of wanting to kill Fortunato, Montresor provides his victim many chances to turn back. Montresor cites Fortunato’s cough, saying the it can be finest to ask because that Luchresi’s assist instead.

But every time, Fortunato states he desires to push forward due to the fact that he cannot stand Luchresi gaining credit for determining whether the Amontillado is authentic. It’s his pride that renders him desire to win Luchresi, yet in the end, it’s his pride that renders him lose.

The power of Revenge

Perhaps the scariest element of “The Cask the Amontillado” is how much Montresor goes because that revenge. In many ways, what Fortunato has done to warrant Montresor’s wrath is immaterial; Poe is an ext interested in how revenge drives a guy to extremes.

In this case, the clear the Fortunato’s perceived wrongs have overcame Montresor’s thoughts and also actions. His arrangement to kill Fortunato is highly premeditated: he’s plainly put a lot of thought into just how he will execute it, right down to making certain he has bricks and mortar handy to entomb Fortunato alive.

This is no a spur-of-the-moment, in-the-heat-of-passion action. No, Montresor has thought long and hard about his plan.

See more: The Chemical Formula For Manganese Ii Phosphate Trihydrate, Manganese(Ii) Phosphate

Given this, Poe mirrors readers how powerful the need for revenge can be. Not only have the right to it drive people to extremes, it deserve to warp their sense of reason, too. After all, brief of murder, what insult might Fortunato have yielded to warrant such a gruesome death? could it be that Montresor’s desire for vengeance, rather than Fortunato"s actions, are what allows Montresor to justify murder?

Ultimately, because the totality story is composed from Montresor’s perspective, Poe doesn’t give readers any clear answers. Yet in law so, Poe likewise shows just how the reality is frequently obscured by people’s perceptions and motivations.


Now What?

It’s an excellent that you’re preparing because that the composition part of the AP literary works exam, but don’t forget the there’s a multiple selection section, too. Get the thin on the multiple choice section—and how to ace it!—here.

One that the ideal ways to exercise for any kind of exam is come take practice tests. Did you understand that over there are practice exams because that AP tests, too? here’s a perform of practice tests because that the AP literary works exam that you deserve to take to assist you examine smarter.

Now the you’re fine on your way to acquisition an AP English exam, why not shot your hand in ~ some other AP tests? here’s a considerable list of all the AP classes and also tests you have the right to take to help earn credit transaction for college.