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The Cask Of Amontillado

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The Cask of Amontillado

A narrator named Montresor describes how a man named Fortunato has offended him repeatedly, and now he wishes to get revenge for these injustices "without impunity," noting that he does not want to have any consequences for this act. However, he does not reveal his hatred to Fortunato at all but instead continued, "to smile in his face," secretly gloating over how Fortunato shall soon be dead. This man also has one weakness, which the narrator chooses to exploit, that Fortunato is an Italian who loves wine tasting, rather than paintings or gems, which he knows nothing about. The narrator declares that he, too, is a connoisseur of wine, revealing that even in this area Fortunato does not have him beaten. Events reach an apex one day during the Italian carnival season, when the narrator encounters a drunken Fortunato and eagerly shakes his hand, declaring deliberately that he has supposedly received some Amontillado wine, but he is not certain if it really is Amontillado after all. Being a wine taster, the drunken Fortunato quickly becomes interested, demanding to know more about this product.

However, Montresor adds that he is going to ask a man named Luchesi to taste this wine for him, to determine if it is really Amontillado or not. Fortunato insists that he go himself to taste this wine because Luchesi is ignorant, in spite of the narrator's plentiful objections, adding that the wine is in the vaults beneath his home. Donning a black mask as is traditional during carnival season, the narrator leads his drunken companion who wears a cone-shaped hat with bells, to his home. There, he relates how "I took from their sconces two flambeaux [torches], and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he follows. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors" Poe, pg. 282. Gazing around, Fortunato begins coughing due to the nitre, or saltpeter, fumes that fill the air but refuses to go upstairs when Montresor expresses concern, who then says revealingly that it is true after all that Fortunato will not die from coughing.

The narrator then picks up a bottle of Medoc lying there in the wine cellar, adding that its fluid will cure Fortunato's cough. Fortunato drinks to Montresor's dead relatives, and Montresor toasts to his "long life," adding afterward that his family's coat of arms has a human foot crushing a serpent that simultaneously has its teeth sunk into its heel. He states also that the family motto is "nemo me impune lacessit," or "Let no one challenge me with impunity [punishment]," reflecting his own wishes earlier to receive no consequences for his act of revenge against Fortunato. Continuing past bones and barrels of wine, the nitre drips increasingly from the ceiling because there is a river flowing far above them, and this nitre, or saltpeter, is formed as a result. He urges Fortunato to return, but still this man adamantly refuses, requesting more wine; Montresor then gives him a bottle of De Grave wine, which Fortunato quickly consumes in its entirety, laughing and tossing the bottle into the air with an odd hand gesture. When Montresor is confused, Fortunato mocks him by saying "Then you are not of the brotherhood," affirming the narrator's continued dislike for him.

When he hears this "brotherhood" is called the "Masons," the narrator eagerly says that he is, indeed, a mason after all, taking out a trowel, a tool used by stone masons. Fortunato responds that he is joking, and they must continue on to find the cask of Amontillado. Wandering deeper still in these tunnels, the men arrive in an area where "At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared

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