As girlfriend prepare for the AP literary works exam, among the points you’ll need to do is end up being an expert in a few literary functions that you can use top top the composition section of the exam. We recommend the you choose four to 5 notable functions with different genres and themes to make certain you have the right to write an exceptional student selection essay.

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

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

To carry you as much as speed, we’ll begin with “The Cask of Amontillado” summary, then we’ll jump into character and also thematic analyses. By the moment you complete this article, you’ll have the ability to write fearlessly about “The Cask the Amontillado” on her AP exam.


A picture of Edgar Allan Poe.

Historical Background: that Was Edgar Allen Poe?

Critics think about Edgar Allan Poe to it is in the father of the detective story (thanks come “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which precedes the Sherlock Holmes story by much more than 50 years!) and a pioneer of the American brief story.

But regardless of his literature success, Edgar Allan Poe’s life was significant by tragedy. Orphaned just a year after ~ his birth in 1809, Poe was taken in by John and also Frances Allan (who no blood relatives). Frances Allan and Poe dealt with often, usually over money, and also Poe would flirt v poverty throughout his life...especially after he was cut out of man Allan’s will.

Poe do the efforts to walk to college yet couldn’t pay for it, so he dropped out. This was a blessing in disguise, because it kicked off Poe’s creating career. fueled by both his passion and the fatality of his larger brother, Poe moved back to Baltimore to come to be a full-time writer. There, the married his cousin—Virginia Clemm—who was just 13 at the moment of the marriage. (Poe to be 26!)

By every accounts, the couple was happy until Virginia’s death thirteen year later. Poe would never ever recover from she death and would happen away two years later, soon after transforming 40 years old.

Poe’s life could have been short, however his writing has lived on. Although Poe to be a poet, literature critic, essayist, short story writer, and also novelist, the is most famous today for his grisly story of terror and the macabre. Most of Poe’s works autumn into the Gothic genre, which is defined by a sense of terror, doubt, and also the uncanny. The genre was extremely popular in the 18th and also 19th centuries, and Poe’s writing would make him among the best-known authors of Gothic horror.

Here"s what amontillado watch like!

The Cask that Amontillado background

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

Though scholars aren’t 100 percent sure what influenced Poe’s brief story, many think it’s based on a story he heard while stationed at fort Independence in Massachusetts in 1827. At the time, ft Independence had a frostbite of lieutenant Robert Massie, who had actually been eliminated in a sword duel adhering to a card game, top top the premises. As legend has it, ~ Massie’s death, various other soldiers take it revenge ~ above his murderer by acquiring him drunk and also permanently sealing him in a vault...alive.

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

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

Regardless that what inspired Poe to create “The Cask of Amontillado,” the fact remains that this short story remains among his most famous and also enduring functions of Gothic terror.


The Cask the Amontillado summary

Now that you understand a tiny bit around the elevator of Poe’s brief story, let’s take it a look at the plot the the text. (You can discover a free, legal copy the “The Cask that Amontillado” virtual by click here.)

The Story Begins

Poe’s short story actually takes location in 2 time periods. The mass of the events occur ~ above the night of Carnaval, i beg your pardon is a west Christian celebration that takes place prior to Lent. Carnival is a celebration of excess—of food, drink, and also fun—before the restriction of the Lenten season to adjust in prior to Easter. (In the unified States, the Carnival season is far better known as Mardi Gras.)

But the story is called in retrospect through the narrator, Montresor, fifty year after the occasion to an unknown listener (only described as “you” in the story). That method that there are actually two different time frames happening in “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Setting the Trap

Readers find out that Montresor is to plan to take it revenge top top his one-time friend, Fortunato. Readers never ever learn exactly what Fortunato has done come Montresor to press him over the edge, only that Montresor feels he is the victim of a “thousand injuries” and also one unnamed “insult” he have to avenge. Readers additionally learn that Montresor has actually hidden his fury in bespeak to to convince Fortunato the they are still friends—which is all part of his plan.

On the night the Carnival, Montresor puts his setup into action. That knows the Fortunato considers himself a wine connoisseur, so Montresor no surprised the Fortunato is currently drunk when he finds him in the center of the Carnival celebration.

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

Entering the Vaults

Montresor’s ploy works. Montresor knows the Fortunato is complete of himself, and also the idea that 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, informing him that going right into the catacombs, or underground vaults wherein generations the the Montresor household are buried, will certainly worsen Fortunato’s head cold. Fortunato waves off Montresor’s concerns, saying the he “shall no die the a cough,” and he adheres to him into the vaults to taste the Amontillado anyway.

As the men venture further right into the dark, secret passageways, Montresor renders sure the Fortunato keeps drinking. Fortunato asks about the Montresor family’s coat of arms, and Montresor speak him the their family motto is “Nemo me impune lacessit,” or “no one assaults me with impunity.” Fortunato is so 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 upstream membership. Montresor says yes and also holds increase a mason’s trowel, implying that he’s a literal mason instead.

Fortunato thinks Montresor is joking, and by the moment they come at the niche wherein Montresor claims he’s stored the Amontillado, he’s also drunk to an alert that yes no wine inside. He doesn’t also resist as Montresor chain him to the wall.

The end of Fortunato

Montresor then reveals the bricks and mortar he has stored in the vault, and also he starts to wall surface up the opened to the niche...with Fortunato chained inside. The procedure is a lengthy one, and Montresor describes Fortunato’s fearful cries and also attempts to pull complimentary from the chains. Yet Montresor is determined, and he litter 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 for help, but the pair room so far underground the there’s no one to listen him. The tries to appeal come Montresor’s logic, saying the he’ll be missed through “Lady Fortunato and also the rest.” Montresor is unmoved, finishes sealing increase the vault, and also leaves Fortunato over there to die.

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



“The Cask that Amontillado” character Analysis

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


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

Dramatic irony is when the leader knows something that one or much more of the personalities don’t know. In this case, readers recognize what Montresor plans come do, but Fortunato stays ignorant. This creates anxiety in the quick story. Together a reader, you desire to yell at Fortunato to operation away, yet you can’t. The thrill that “The Cask the Amontillado” originates from knowing exactly what will certainly happen and being powerless to protect against it.

Other than the fact that he seems to have actually wronged Montresor somehow, readers find out very little about Fortunato directly. Everything us know about his character we have to infer indigenous Montresor’s descriptions of Fortunato and his actions.

For example, we understand Fortunato thinks he and Montresor room friends, and they most likely were at one point. But we also know the Fortunato is “rich, respected, admired, beloved,” and also happy, follow to Montresor, at least. Yet he additionally seems to it is in egotistical and self-indulgent; he drinks to excess, has no qualms talking badly about other world (like Luchresi), and thinks he’s the finest wine connoisseur around.

Ultimately, even if it is or no Fortunato’s character flaws are enough to warrant Fortunato’s fate is increase for reader to decide.


Montresor is the key character that “The Cask the Amontillado,” and the story is told in an initial person native his perspective. like Fortunato, readers recognize very little about Montresor’s backstory outside of what they can infer indigenous the text. For example, Poe suggests that Montresor appears to come indigenous money—he stays in a palazzo, i m sorry is usually an Italian palace, which has actually its own crypt.

But Montresor’s plot tell reader even more about his character. First, he’s driven by revenge. That doesn’t take insults lightly, and he’s able come nurse a grudge to an extreme degree. He’s also witty—he makes double entendres around Fortunato’s fatality that the last never catches—and knows exactly how to setup ahead, too.

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

All that this together provides readers concern Montresor’s duty in the story. at the beginning, that seems like he’s the protagonist: he’s a male who’s to be terribly wronged looking for revenge. But by the end of the story, it’s no clear even if it is Montresor is the story’s hero...or its villain.


Luchresi never appears in the story, however he theatre a an important role in Montresor’s plan. Luchresi is clearly one of Fortunato’s rivals, if not in reality, then at least when it concerns his expertise in wine.

Montresor dram this rivalry to his advantage. The keeps pointing out Luchresi’s name to motivate Fortunato and also keep that interested in the Amontillado, especially due to the fact that he’s drunk and his attention keeps wavering. (Keep in mind that Luchresi is an chaste bystander in all of this—Montresor is simply borrowing his name and reputation.) Poe supplies the cite of Luchresi’s surname to repeat Fortunato—and the readers—what’s happening.

Unnamed Listener

Like we mentioned earlier, “The Cask of Amontillado” is a story called in retrospect. An older Montresor is speak to one unnamed listener, recounting just how he eliminated Fortunato in revenge.

Readers recognize nothing around the listener, only that he’s Montresor’s audience in informing the story. But indigenous an analysis standpoint, the listener is important. The reminds united state that Montresor is telling this story to who else, and in doing so, do the efforts to interact his an individual perspective. It provides readers question whether Montresor is informing the entirety truth, too. Was Fortunato yes, really as negative as Montresor says he was, because that example? due to the fact that the story is told native Montresor’s perspective—and likely with an agenda in mind—readers space left wondering if Montresor’s account is completely accurate.


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The 3 an essential The Cask that Amontillado Themes

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

The Unreliability of Perception

Think the a time that you did something girlfriend knew your parents would punish you for. Once you explained the situation to her parents, exactly how did you do it? an ext than likely, you tried come downplay your actions (without lying!) to make the results a small less severe.

This is a good example of exactly how perspective matters. For her parents, what you did is a significant offense. Yet if you might just market a different perspective ~ above things, probably you won’t be base for quite so long!

In “The Cask the Amontillado,” readers are presented with Montresor’s perspective of the story. the tells readers he’s to be wronged—for what, he doesn’t say—and paints an unflattering snapshot of Fortunato. Even though Montresor says he’s rich and well liked, Fortunato’s actions do him seem favor a stuck-up, overindulgent idiot.

But is the accurate? due to the fact that we only obtain Montresor’s side of the story, it’s hard to know. It’s as much as the reader to decide how reliable, or trustworthy, Montresor is together a narrator. Execute we believe him and his discussion that death Fortunato was the only means to have his revenge? Or is Montresor simply a cold-blooded killer?

By making the readers ask these questions, Poe draws fist to the idea that people’s separation, personal, instance perspectives on a situation aren’t necessarily 100 percent accurate.

The risk of pride

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

Even though he’s drunk and also sick, the point out of Luchresi’s name triggers Fortunato’s substantial ego. The idea that anyone could be better than him—especially Luchresi, that can’t “tell Amontillado indigenous sherry”—drives the to monitor Montresor right into the catacombs. In spite of wanting to kill Fortunato, Montresor gives his victim countless chances to rotate back. Montresor cites Fortunato’s cough, saying that it might be ideal to ask for Luchresi’s assist instead.

But each time, Fortunato states he wants to press forward since he cannot was standing Luchresi getting credit for determining whether the Amontillado is authentic. It’s his proud that makes him want to beat Luchresi, however in the end, the his pride that makes him lose.

The strength of Revenge

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

In this case, the clear the Fortunato’s viewed wrongs have overcame Montresor’s thoughts and actions. His arrangement to death Fortunato is highly premeditated: he’s plainly put a the majority of thought into how he will do it, right down come making certain he has actually bricks and mortar comfortable to entomb Fortunato alive.

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

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Given this, Poe mirrors readers how an effective the require for revenge deserve to be. Not only can it drive civilization to extremes, it have the right to warp their feeling of reason, too. After all, short of murder, what insult could Fortunato have ceded to warrant such a gruesome death? can it be the Montresor’s desire for vengeance, rather than Fortunato"s actions, room what enables Montresor to justify murder?

Ultimately, since the whole story is created from Montresor’s perspective, Poe doesn’t offer readers any kind of clear answers. But in law so, Poe also shows how the reality is often obscured through people’s perceptions and motivations.


Now What?

It’s an excellent that you’re preparing for the composition part of the AP literature exam, but nothing forget that there’s a multiple an option section, too. Acquire the slim on the multiple selection section—and how to ace it!—here.

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

Now that you’re fine on your way to taking an AP English exam, why not try your hand at some other AP tests? here’s a substantial list of all the AP classes and also tests you can take to help earn credit for college.