Beware! "The Cask of Amontillado" synopsis below does contain spoilers! This summary is meant to be a helpful recap for students after they have read the story. Or, a useful refresher for teachers to help them decide if they would like to use this short story in the classroom.
"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 this story.
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.
It is so easy to use our assignment wizard to create your own activity from scratch. All you have to do is: give your assignment a title, add directions, provide a template and send it to your students! You can even use any of the storyboards you see within our activities as examples by quickly and easily copying and customizing them for your intended purpose. Don't forget to look through our thousands of worksheet and poster templates as well! You can add as many templates to an assignment as you'd like!
Storyboard That is an excellent tool for students to create fun and engaging projects as a culminating activity after finishing a novel or poem. In addition to our premade activities, here are some ideas that teachers can customize and assign to students to spark creativity in individual students, pairs, or small groups for a final project. Several of these ideas include Storyboard That templates that can be printed out or copied into your teacher dashboard and assigned digitally. All final projects can be printed out, presented as a slide show, or, for an extra challenge, as an animated gif!
Extend and enhance your students' knowledge of Poe and his works by conducting an Author Study. Students can research more about Edgar Allan Poe, read his various stories and poems and make connections to his life and the time period. Students can use storyboards to analyze his work, his style, prevalent themes and more!
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”
- Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher", 1839
Edgar Allan Poe was an American short-story writer, poet, critic, and editor. He is internationally known as a literary genius. Some of his most famous poems and short stories, like "The Cask of Amontillado", are dark tales of grief, mystery, macabre and the supernatural.
Some of the most famous works by Edgar Allan Poe in order of their publication are: "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839), "The Masque of the Red Death" (1842), "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1843), "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843), "The Black Cat" (1843), "The Purloined Letter" (1844), "The Raven" (1845), "The Cask of Amontillado" (1846), and "The Bells" (1848). All are considered literary classics today.
Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His life was fraught with tragedy from an early age. His father, David Poe, Jr. abandoned the family when Poe was just a baby. Poe's mother, English-born Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was a well-liked actress who tragically died of tuberculosis when Poe was only 3 years old. He carried an image of his mother throughout his life.
Poe was taken in by John Allan, a successful tobacco merchant in Richmond, VA and his wife, Frances Allan. While Poe was sadly separated from his siblings William and Rosalie, he was afforded the opportunity of a good education and was doted upon by Mrs. Allan, who had no children of her own. Poe showed great promise with writing at an early age but was discouraged by his foster father who preferred he go into the family business.
It is said that Poe had a loving relationship with his foster mother but sadly, Mrs. Allan, too, died of tuberculosis when Poe was a young man. Poe had a difficult relationship with his strict foster father. Mr. Allan helped Poe attend the University of Virginia for one year and later the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but otherwise he and Poe had a tumultuous relationship. Mr. Allan did little to help Poe financially and even left Poe out of his will. Despite his talents as a writer, Poe struggled with money, gambling, alcohol, and poor health throughout his life.
At the University of Virginia, Poe impressed his classmates with his talents as both a writer and an artist. While away at school, Poe's fiancee, Sarah Elmira Royster became engaged to another. Heartbroken, in 1827, Poe moved to Boston where he published his first pamphlet of poems followed by another volume in 1829 in Baltimore. In 1833, Poe published the short story, "MS. Found in a Bottle" and in 1835, he became the editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger" in Richmond. Having finally found a stable profession, Poe was then married to his much younger cousin, Virginia Clemm.
Poe was known as a harsh and combative critic at the "Southern Literary Messenger" and his stint there didn't last long. His reputation as being antagonistic was well known and he even had a feud with another famous poet of his day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poe bounced around, working for various other magazines and journals and in 1844 he moved to New York City with his wife, Virginia. Despite his numerous publications prior, it wasn't until he published "The Raven" in 1845 that he was finally considered a popular literary star of his day. So much so that Poe's nickname even became, "The Raven". It was published in "The Evening Mirror" where Poe worked as a critic and it became an overnight sensation. While the publication of "The Raven" brought Poe great acclaim and fame, it did not bring him any fortune. In fact, he earned a mere $14.00 for it. Having lived most of his life impoverished despite steadily working, Poe was an advocate for better wages for writers.
When Poe wrote "The Raven" he was foreshadowing the loss of his own beloved. On January 30, 1847, in a tragic twist of fate, Poe's young wife, Virginia, died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 - the same age his mother was when she died and the same cause of death as both his mother and foster mother. Poe fell into a deep depression and although he continued to work, suffered poor health, both mental and physical. Poe did manage to write an ode to his lost love called, "Annabel Lee".
Poe was known to have abused alcohol and was said to have looked pale and sickly in the days leading up to his death. It is unknown the exact cause of Poe's death. Some suspect foul play, others believe that it was actually rabies that led to his early demise. He was found delirious and semi-conscious on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland and died in the hospital on October 7, 1849 at the age of 40. Poe's final words were, "Lord, help my poor soul."
Edgar Allan Poe is remembered as a singular talent of imaginative storytelling. His works helped define the Romanticism and American Gothic Literary Movements of his time and he is recognized as one of the first authors of detective fiction. His works continue to influence many books and movies today. Despite his sorrowful life, his legacy lives on.
Start by giving the students an introduction to different types of writing styles. Teachers can then mainly focus on gothic writing and how it’s different from other genres. The introduction can focus on the historical context of gothic writing such as its origin and cultural influences.
Teachers can foster interest in gothic writing by recommending some classic literary pieces. Besides Edgar Allan Poe, there are many other writers who use this writing style such as Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights).
Complex and emotive characters are common in Gothic literature. Look for characters who are battling obsessions, inner conflicts, and psychological anguish. Investigate the conflict between good and evil and the multiple natures of the characters.
In Gothic literature, symbolism, and vivid imagery are essential. Examine the ways in which imagery such as darkness, light, mirrors, and the paranormal evoke deeper meanings and psychological emotions. The symbolism used in gothic literature is unique and will immediately get students interested.
Students can try to write essays or critical analyses of gothic literature after familiarizing themselves with some interesting pieces. They can also discuss issues with friends or online communities to share their thoughts and perspectives.
The rare wine Amontillado that Montresor employs as bait to entice Fortunato into his trap is referenced in the title of the story. The focus of this main theme of trickery and manipulation is suggested by the title.
The two primary protagonists in the story are Fortunato, who is the target of Montresor's revenge plan, and Montresor, the storyteller and revenge seeker.
The story does not specifically specify the nature of the insult that Fortunato directed toward Montresor. This ambiguity heightens the sense of mystery and lets readers wonder what Montresor's motivations might be.
The story's main theme is retribution. The elaborate planning and execution of Montresor's retaliation reveal his concern with exacting revenge for the alleged wrong done by Fortunato. The plot explores the dark and vengeful side of human passion.