As you prepare for the AP Literature exam, one of the things you’ll have to execute is come to be an expert in a few literary functions that you can use on the composition percentage of the exam. We recommend that you select four to five notable functions via various genres and themes to make sure you have the right to compose an exceptional student option essay.

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(Actually...practicing analyzing literature will certainly assist you on the totality exam, not just the written percentage, so it’s a win-win situation!)

But simply because these functions need to be “notable” via “literary merit” doesn’t mean they must be boring, too! That’s why we’re talking around Edgar Allan Poe’s brief story, “The Cask of Amontillacarry out,” as an excellent alternative for your AP exam. Not only is it commonly known as a fantastic item of literature, it’s gained a little of everything: horror! Suspense! A surprise twist! And as an included’s brief.

To carry you up to speed, we’ll begin through “The Cask of Amontillado” summary, then we’ll jump into character and thematic analyses. By the moment you finish this write-up, you’ll be able to compose fearlessly around “The Cask of Amontillado” on your AP exam.


A photograph of Edgar Allan Poe.

Historical Background: Who Was Edgar Allen Poe?

Critics take into consideration Edgar Allan Poe to be the father of the detective story (thanks to “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which predates the Sherlock Holmes stories by even more than 50 years!) and also a pioneer of the Amerihave the right to short story.

But despite his literary success, Edgar Allan Poe’s life was noted by tragedy. Orphaned just a year after his birth in 1809, Poe was taken in by John and also Frances Allan (who weren’t blood relatives). Frances Allan and also Poe battled often, normally over money, and also Poe would flirt with poverty throughout his life...especially after he was cut out of John Allan’s will.

Poe tried to go to college however couldn’t pay for it, so he dropped out. This was a blessing in disguise, considering that it kicked off Poe’s composing career. Fueled by both his passion and also the death of his older brother, Poe moved back to Baltimore to come to be a permanent writer. There, he married his cousin—Virginia Clemm—that was simply 13 at the moment of the marriage. (Poe was 26!)

By all accounts, the couple was happy till Virginia’s death thirteenager years later on. Poe would certainly never recover from her death and would certainly pass ameans 2 years later, quickly after turning 40 years old.

Poe’s life could have actually been brief, yet his creating has actually lived on. Although Poe was a poet, literary movie critic, essayist, brief story writer, and also novelist, he is many famous today for his grisly stories of terror and the macabre. Most of Poe’s functions loss right into the Gothic genre, which is defined by a feeling of terror, doubt, and the uncanny. The genre was very famous in the 18th and 1nine centuries, and also Poe’s writing would make him among the best-known writers of Gothic horror.

Here"s what amontillado looks like!

The Cask of Amontillacarry out Background

“The Cask of Amontillado” is just one of Poe’s the majority of well known short stories, and also it was initially published in 1846 in Godey’s Lady Publication, the a lot of popular periodical in the USA at that time.

Though scholars aren’t 100 percent sure what influenced Poe’s short story, many believe it’s based on a story he heard while stationed at Fort Independence in Massachusetts in 1827. At that time, Ft Independence had a statue of Lieutenant Robert Massie, who had actually been eliminated in a sword duel following a card game, on the premises. As legend has actually it, after Massie’s death, other soldiers took revenge on his murderer by getting him drunk and also permanently sealing him in a vault...alive.

A more popular theory is that Poe created “The Cask of Amontillado” in response to his individual rival, Thomas Dunn English, that had actually created a scapoint critique of among Poe’s novels. “The Cask of Amontillado” skewers aspects from English’s novel, 1844, consisting of making referrals to the exact same key cultures and also subterranean vaults featured in English’s job-related.

Others think that “The Cask of Amontillado” was inspired not by a person, however by a widespread fear of being hidden alive. Since medicine was in its insophisticated, periodically coma victims were assumed to be dead and also were buried appropriately, only to awake in their coffins days later on. People started inventing easy-open up coffins, burial vaults through home windows, and even coffins with breapoint tubes attached to save human being that were prematudepend hidden. And of course, the fear of being buried alive—only to die in your very own coffin—is echoed in the plot of “The Cask of Amontillacarry out.”

Regardmuch less of what inspired Poe to compose “The Cask of Amontillacarry out,” the fact remains that this short story remains among his most famous and also enduring works of Gothic terror.


The Cask of Amontillaexecute Rundown

Now that you recognize a little little bit about the background of Poe’s short story, let’s take a look at the plot of the message. (You deserve to uncover a cost-free, legal copy of “The Cask of Amontillado” online by clicking here.)

The Story Begins

Poe’s brief story actually takes area in two time periods. The mass of the occasions occur on the night of Carnaval, which is a Western Christian celebration that takes location before Lent. Carnival is a celebration of excess—of food, drink, and fun—prior to the restriction of the Lenten seaboy sets in before Easter. (In the USA, the Carnival seakid is much better recognized as Mardi Gras.)

But the story is told in retrospect by the narrator, Montresor, fifty years after the event to an unwell-known listener (only referred to as “you” in the story). That suggests that tbelow are actually two different time frames happening in “The Cask of Amontillaexecute.”

Setting the Trap

Readers learn that Montresor is planning to take revenge on his one-time frifinish, Fortunato. Readers never learn specifically what Fortunato has done to Montresor to push him over the edge, only that Montresor feels he is the victim of a “thousand injuries” and also one unnamed “insult” he must avenge. Readers also learn that Montresor has covert his rage in order to convince Fortunato that they are still friends—which is all part of his arrangement.

On the night of Carnival, Montresor puts his plan into activity. He knows that Fortunato considers himself a wine connoisseur, so Montresor isn’t surprised that Fortunato is currently drunk as soon as he finds him in the middle of the Carnival celebration.

Montresor tells him around a pipe, or around 130 gallons, of Amontillaperform he bought. (Amontillaperform is a fine sherry wine.) But now that he has actually the wine, Montresor is afrhelp that he was duped. He tells Fortunato that he was on his means to uncover Luchresi—one more 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 the idea that someone might judge the Amontillaexecute pricks his ego. As a result, Fortunato insists on checking the Amontillado himself.

Montresor half-heartedly tries to dissuade Fortunato, informing him that going into the catacombs, or underground vaults where generations of the Montresor family are hidden, will worsen Fortunato’s head cold. Fortunato waves off Montresor’s comes to, saying that he “shall not die of a cough,” and also he adheres to him into the vaults to taste the Amontillacarry out anyway.

As the males undertaking further right into the dark, underground passagemethods, Montresor renders sure that Fortunato keeps drinking. Fortunato asks around the Montresor family’s coat of arms, and Montresor tells him that their household motto is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” or “no one attacks me via impunity.” Fortunato is so drunk that he misses the warning in Montresor’s words, and rather asks whether Montresor is a member of the masons, a fraternity via an elite membership. Montresor states yes and holds up a mason’s trowel, implying that he’s a literal makid rather.

Fortunato thinks Montresor is joking, and by the time they arrive at the niche where Montresor claims he’s stored the Amontillado, he’s as well drunk to notice that there’s no wine inside. He doesn’t even resist as Montresor chains him to the wall.

The End of Fortunato

Montresor then reveals the bricks and also mortar he has stored in the vault, and also he starts to wall up the opening to the niche...with Fortunato chained inside. The process is a long one, and Montresor describes Fortunato’s fearful cries and attempts to pull totally free from the chains. But Montresor is figured out, and he throws a lit torch into the niche via Fortunato prior to he finishes walling him in alive.

By this suggest, Fortunato is panicked. He’s screaming for aid, however the pair are so far underground that there’s no one to hear him. He tries to appeal to Montresor’s logic, saying that he’ll be missed by “Lady Fortunato and also the rest.” Montresor is unrelocated, finishes sealing up the vault, and also leaves Fortunato tright here to die.

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



“The Cask of Amontillado” Character Analysis

Read on for an in-depth analysis of the significant characters in “The Cask of Amontillaexecute.”


Fortunato’s name means “the fortunate one” in Italian, which is ironic given that he ends up bricked within the Montresor catacombs and also left to die. This is just one instance of the dramatic irony that permeates the short story.

Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that one or more of the characters don’t understand. In this situation, readers recognize what Montresor plans to carry out, however Fortunato remains ignorant. This creates anxiety in the brief story. As a reader, you want to yell at Fortunato to run ameans, but you can’t. The thrill of “The Cask of Amontillado” comes from understanding exactly what will happen and also being powerless to speak it.

Other than the truth that he appears to have actually wronged Montresor someexactly how, readers learn extremely little bit about Fortunato straight. Everything we recognize around his character we need to infer from Montresor’s descriptions of Fortunato and also his actions.

For instance, we know Fortunato thinks he and also Montresor are friends, and also they likely were at one suggest. But we likewise know that Fortunato is “well-off, respected, admired, beloved,” and happy, according to Montresor, at least. But he likewise seems to be egotistical and also self-indulgent; he drinks to excess, has no qualms talking badly around other human being (prefer Luchresi), and also thinks he’s the best wine connoisseur approximately.

Eventually, whether or not Fortunato’s character flegislations are enough to warrant Fortunato’s fate is up for readers to decide.


Montresor is the main character of “The Cask of Amontillacarry out,” and also the story is told in initially perkid from his perspective. Like Fortunato, readers know very bit around Montresor’s backstory exterior of what they have the right to infer from the message. For instance, Poe means that Montresor seems to come from money—he lives in a palazzo, which is basically an Italian royal residence, which has its very own crypt.

But Montresor’s actions tell readers even more about his character. First, he’s moved by revenge. He doesn’t take insults lightly, and also he’s able to nurse a grudge to an extreme degree. He’s additionally witty—he renders double entendres about Fortunato’s death that the latter never before catches—and knows how to setup ahead, also.

But the majority of importantly, he lacks remorse. At the end of the story, Montresor ends through an exclamation, “In pace requiescat,” which means “remainder in tranquility.” Montresor is proud of what he’s done...and also also prouder that he hasn’t been captured. As an outcome, his final wish for Fortunato comes throughout as sarcastic fairly than sincere.

All of this together renders readers question Montresor’s duty in the story. At the start, he seems favor he’s the protagonist: he’s a male who’s been terribly wronged in search of revenge. But by the finish of the story, it’s not clear whether Montresor is the story’s hero...or its villain.


Luchresi never before shows up in the story, yet he plays a critical function in Montresor’s arrangement. Luchresi is clearly among Fortunato’s rivals, if not in truth, then at leastern when it comes to his field of expertise in wine.

Montresor plays this rivalry to his benefit. He keeps stating Luchresi’s name to motivate Fortunato and keep him interested in the Amontillaexecute, especially considering that he’s drunk and his attention keeps wavering. (Keep in mind that Luchresi is an innocent bystander in all of this—Montresor is simply borrowing his name and reputation.) Poe offers the point out of Luchresi’s name to remind Fortunato—and the readers—what’s happening.

Uncalled Listener

Like we mentioned 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 recognize nopoint about the listener, only that he’s Montresor’s audience in informing the story. But from an evaluation standallude, the listener is vital. It reminds us that Montresor is informing this story to someone else, and also in doing so, trying to communicate his individual perspective. It renders readers question whether Montresor is telling the whole reality, too. Was Fortunato really as negative as Montresor claims he was, for example? Due to the fact that the story is told from Montresor’s perspective—and most likely through an agenda in mind—readers are left wondering if Montresor’s account is completely precise.


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The 3 Key The Cask of Amontillacarry out Themes

“The Cask of Amontillado" is considered one of Poe’s best short stories, and also via excellent reason: it melds tension, horror, and also surprise together masterfully. But what are the messages of Poe’s story? Let’s look at three of major themes of “The Cask of Amontillado” listed below.

The Unreliability of Perception

Think of a time that you did something you knew your parents would certainly punish you for. When you described the case to your parents, exactly how did you do it? More than likely, you tried to downplay your actions (without lying!) to make the after-effects a tiny less significant.

This is an excellent instance of how perspective matters. For your parents, what you did is a significant offense. But if you could simply offer a various perspective on things, perhaps you won’t be grounded for quite so long!

In “The Cask of Amontillacarry out,” readers are presented through Montresor’s perspective of the story. He tells readers he’s been wronged—for what, he doesn’t say—and paints an unflattering image of Fortunato. Even though Montresor claims he’s well-off and also well preferred, Fortunato’s actions make him seem favor a stuck-up, overindulgent idiot.

But is that accurate? Due to the fact that we just get Montresor’s side of the story, it’s difficult to understand. It’s as much as the reader to decide exactly how reputable, or reliable, Montresor is as a narrator. Do we believe him and his dispute that killing Fortunato was the only way to have his revenge? Or is Montresor just a cold-blooded killer?

By making the readers ask these inquiries, Poe draws attention to the principle that people’s individual perspectives on a instance aren’t necessarily 100 percent specific.

The Danger of Pride

Although Montresor is responsible for Fortunato’s fatality, the last has actually a hand in sealing his very own coffin, also.

Even though he’s drunk and sick, the mention of Luchresi’s name triggers Fortunato’s massive ego. The idea that anyone could be much better than him—especially Luchresi, who can’t “tell Amontillacarry out from sherry”—drives him to follow Montresor right into the catacombs. In spite of wanting to kill Fortunato, Montresor offers his victim many type of possibilities to revolve back. Montresor cites Fortunato’s cough, saying that it can be best to ask for Luchresi’s assist rather.

But each time, Fortunato states he wants to push forward bereason he cannot stand Luchresi getting crmodify for determining whether the Amontillaexecute is authentic. It’s his pride that renders him want to beat Luchresi, yet in the end, it’s his pride that provides him lose.

The Power of Revenge

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

In this instance, it’s clear that Fortunato’s perceived wrongs have actually dominated Montresor’s thoughts and actions. His plan to kill Fortunato is highly premeditated: he’s clearly put most assumed right into just how he will certainly perform it, best dvery own to making certain he has bricks and also 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 also difficult around his arrangement.

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Given this, Poe reflects readers how effective the require for revenge have the right to be. Not only can it drive world to extremes, it have the right to warp their feeling of reason, as well. After all, short of murder, what insult could Fortunato have actually delivered to warrant such a gruesome death? Could it be that Montresor’s desire for vengeance, rather than Fortunato"s actions, are what enables Montresor to justify murder?

Eventually, because the totality story is composed from Montresor’s perspective, Poe doesn’t provide readers any kind of clear answers. But in doing so, Poe additionally mirrors just how the truth is frequently obscured by people’s perceptions and also motivations.


Now What?

It’s excellent that you’re preparing for the complace component of the AP Literature exam, however don’t forget that there’s a multiple choice area, too. Get the skinny on the multiple option section—and also how to ace it!—right here.

One of the best methods to practice for any type of exam is to take exercise tests. Did you understand that there are exercise exams for AP tests, too? Here’s a list of practice tests for the AP Literature exam that you can take to help you study smarter.

Now that you’re well on your way to taking an AP English exam, why not attempt your hand also at some various other AP tests? Here’s an extensive list of all the AP classes and tests you have the right to take to help earn credit for college.