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The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our High School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Cask of Amontillado Include:

I love sharing "The Cask of Amontillado" with my ninth grade students during the first week of school! I am fortunate enough to teach right outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where this not so fictional tale occurred. Going over the background of Poe’s time in the military and being stationed at Castle Island brings this dark romantic tale to life. Students love hearing the truth behind the tale. What they love even more is creating and sharing storyboards that show their understanding of the story. With this teacher guide, you, too, can hook your students and teach them the essentials of this gory tale.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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The Cask of Amontillado Summary

"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, is a short story inspired by true events that took place on Castle Island, a former military fort off of Boston Harbor, in Massachusetts. When Poe was stationed there as young cadet in the Army, he found a peculiar gravestone. After some inquiry, he learned a story of a man who had been walled up alive. Forbidden by his commander to ever repeat the particulars, Poe took the plot line, changed the setting and characters, and wrote "The Cask of Amontillado".

The story is set in Italy, during the Carnival. The narrator, Montresor, without giving the particulars, explains that he has a grudge to settle with Fortunato, who insulted him. Both men being wine connoisseurs, Montresor lures Fortunato into his catacombs by promising him a fine bottle of Amontillado wine.

As the two men travel into the catacombs, Fortunato has no inkling that his friend will betray him. Fortunato is ill, battling a bad cough. Surprisingly, Montresor urges his friend to turn back. Laden with irony and foreshadowing, Fortunato claims, "I will not die of a cough” and continues with Montresor.

When the men finally reach the base of the crypt, Montresor has bricks and mortar awaiting them. He chains Fortunato to the wall and seals him in alive.


Essential Questions for “The Cask of Amontillado”

  1. Is revenge ever justified?
  2. How do actions have serious consequences for others, even if you aren't aware of them?
  3. What is suspense, and how is it used in storytelling?

The Cask of Amontillado Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram | "The Cask of Amontillado" Summary


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a novel. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example "The Cask of Amontillado" Plot Diagram

Exposition

During Carnival in Italy, Montresor runs into Fortunato, and offers to share a very nice bottle of Amontillado wine with him. However, this bottle is in his catacombs. It is late at night and Fortunato seems ill.


Conflict

The narrator, Montresor, claims that Fortunato has gravely insulted him, and is plotting to get his revenge.


Rising Action

Montresor lures Fortunato down into the dark and eerie wine vault. As suspense builds, Montresor keeps asking if Fortunato would like to turn back because he seems ill. Fortunato continues to drink wine to ease his cough.


Climax

When they reach their destination, there is no Amontillado, but there is a hole in the wall. Montresor shackles Fortunato inside, and begins to seal up the wall with bricks.


Falling Action

As the last few bricks are laid, Fortunato screams for Montresor to stop, but it is too late. Montresor has enacted his revenge.


Resolution

Montresor walks away with only the sound of Fortunato’s jingling jester bells echoing in the tomb. He replaces the bones of the crypt. In the end, he claims that no one has disturbed them for 50 years; he has gotten away with his plot!


Cask of Amontillado Plot Diagram

Example

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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of "The Cask of Amontillado".


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Story Outline Storyboard Template

Example

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"Cask of Amontillado" Themes


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Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to anatomize without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism Poe uses to send a strong lesson to readers.


Themes, Motifs, and Imagery to Look for and Discuss

Names

Poe employs irony in many of his works. A specific example in this story is the name "Fortunato", which means the "fortunate one" in Italian. Despite his name, Fortunato's fate is certainly unfortunate.


Carnivals and Masquerades

These events set the scene for many of Poe’s horror stories. In "Cask" the setting of Carnival takes on a double meaning. Typically Carnival is a time of happiness and social gathering. However, it is also a time of disguises and trickery. Montresor uses these motifs to his advantage as he lures Fortunato to his death with a bottle of wine.


The Voice of the Dead

Death is a recurring motif that Poe favors in his works and their messages. In "Cask", he uses the story of Fortunato’s death to ask the question, "Is revenge always justified?" Notice how Poe never tells the reader what it was that Fortunato did or said, Montresor simply states that he was insulted. This leaves the reader to question justification of Montresors’ actions.


Cask of Amontillado Theme

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in "Cask of Amontillado". Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the theme(s) from "Cask of Amontillado" you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Template: Theme

Example

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Irony in "The Cask of Amontillado"

One of the most taught literary terms is irony. In fiction, and in life, irony is all around. Common types of irony are: verbal, situational, and dramatic. It is critical that students distinguish between the types of irony. Asking students to create storyboards that depict each type of irony makes teaching these elements a breeze.

Verbal Irony in "The Cask of Amontillado"

"I shall not die of a cough"

A prime example of verbal irony in "The Cask of Amontillado" is when an unsuspecting Fortunato is being led to his death by his former acquaintance, Montresor. As Montresor lures him into the catacombs, he questions Fortunato about his well-being. Montresor notices Fortunato has a cough, which is growing more severe the farther down the catacombs they travel. He asks if Fortunato would like to turn back. Fortunato replies, “I shall not die of a cough.” Montresor knowingly replies, “True – true.” The audience finds out at the end that this was in fact use of verbal irony. Montresor appeared to mean that the cough was harmless, but what he was also saying was that he planned to kill Fortunato.


The Cask of Amontillado - Verbal Irony

Example

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"The Cask of Amontillado" Literary Elements


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Most short stories and screenplays are rich in figurative language and literary elements. These are used to enhance the symbolism, motifs, and themes within the story. "The Cask of Amontillado" is no exception. The use of similes, metaphors, personification, and onomatopoeia are abundant.

After reading the story, ask your students to create a scavenger hunt using the storyboard creator. Give them a list of figurative language to find, and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the story! They will have an absolute blast and master the words by the end.


Literary Elements in "The Cask of Amontillado"

DESCRIPTION EXAMPLE
Hyperbole Exaggeration or overstatement for humor or emphasis “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could...”
Metaphor An implied comparison between two things “He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication."
Foreshadowing Hinting at something that will happen later on “He had a weak point - this Fortunato - although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.”

Cask of Amontillado Literary Elements

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows five examples of literary elements in "The Cask of Amontillado".


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify use of literary elements in the text.
  3. Put the type of literary element in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.



Literary Element Spider Map Template

Example

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Poe-cabulary | "The Cask of Amontillado" Vocabulary


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In any classroom, vocabulary is a key component for expanding student knowledge. A perfect way for students to practice vocabulary skills is to create storyboards that show the use of a word in a real life context or visually depicted as meant in the text. When students define and then use a word, they master the use of it in context and retain it into their own vocabulary.

Vocabulary words from “The Cask of Amontillado”

  • Amontillado: A dry pale sherry, a type of alcohol similar to wine.
  • Retribution: Payback, punishment, revenge.
  • Impunity: Freedom from consequences.

Teacher's Note: There are two ways that you can use Poe’s vocabulary to teach your class. First, you can have students come up with their usage for each word in an original sentence authored by them! Second, you could have them find the usage of the word in the text and depict what the word means!

Visually Depicted Word Meanings from “The Cask of Amontillado” :

  • "Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry."
  • A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.
  • I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.
Cask of Amontillado Vocabulary

Example

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Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in "The Cask of Amontillado" by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Vocabulary Template Blank

Example

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Check Out These Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Create storyboards to show specific causes and effects of events in the story.
  2. Storyboard the events at Castle Island where Poe got the idea for his story!
  3. Use a storyboard to show how Poe builds suspense.
  4. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

From Our Artists

From Stephanie (Head of Creativity)

Poe is the leader in classic horror works from the era of dark Romanticism. We specifically created scenes, characters, and items to bring the creepy atmosphere of Poe's stories to life.

  • Personal Favorite: In search, there are a series of bricks for Montresor to wall Fortunato in with, from single, and piles of bricks, to half-completed walls, and finally the finished wall. They are designed to fit perfectly in the opening in our catacombs scene.
  • Pro-tip: Turn a normal Italian city street into a carnival by adding streamers and fireworks to the sky! Don't forget Montresor's mask! All these items can be found in search!

Items specific for "The Cask of Amontillado" can be found using the search term "Poe".



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Prefer a different language?

•   (English) The Cask of Amontillado   •   (Español) El Barril de Amontillado   •   (Français) Le Fût D'Amontillado   •   (Deutsch) Das Fass Amontillado   •   (Italiana) Il Barile di Amontillado   •   (Nederlands) The Cask van Amontillado   •   (Português) O Barril de Amontillado   •   (עברית) "החבית" יין אמוננזילדו   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) برميل خشبي من Amontillado