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Before You Read The Cask Of Amontillado

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Before You ReadThe Cask of AmontilladoMeet Edgar Allan Poe(1809–1849)Crumbling mansions, hearts that continue to beat after death, and insanekillers are just a few of the ingredientsin Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction. His stories arenot simple spine-tinglers, however. Poe travels deep into psychological territory, exploringguilt, rage, sorrow, madness, and fear.A Loner Poe’s life itself was a dark and oftenhaunting tale. His parents were povertystricken actors. Poe’s father left when Poe wastwo years old, and his mother died when hewas three. Separated from his siblings, Poewas raised by John and Frances Allan. As Poeentered adolescence, he had a serious fallingout with his foster father, who disapproved ofhis desire to write. Poe spent a few years inthe army to try to regain his foster father’sapproval, but once it was clear that Allan wasthrough with him, Poe moved to Baltimoreand focused on writing.“From childhood’s hour I have not beenAs others were—I have not seenAs others saw—”—Edgar Allan Poe, “Alone”Turmoil and Grief Poe began to write poetryas a teenager and published his first collectionof poems in 1829. His short stories beganappearing in magazines, and in 1833, one ofhis tales won a prize. This led to a job as a literary editor, a position that brought him greatsuccess, but which he lost due to his changeable nature and alcoholism. Most of the56 U N I T 1remainder of Poe’s short life was spent inpoverty and pain. He continued to work, buthe did not achieve the public success he felthe deserved. Alcohol remained a problem,and he was often ill. He watched the love ofhis life, his wife Virginia Clemm, wasteaway and die from tuberculosis. Poe’s loneliness, pain, and general inability to connectwith others helped forge his uniquely darkvision.A Literary Giant Poe’s essays and reviews arestill read today for their literary insights. Hispoetry, including such famous works as “TheRaven” and “The Bells,” lives on in countlesscollections of America’s best writing. Perhapsmost of all, his fictional works continue tofrighten and delight readers worldwide.Poe is classified as an American Romanticwriter, a detective fiction writer, and a Gothicwriter. Some critics refer to Poe as the firsttruly modern writer because he probed theindividual and the mystery of the self.Literature OnlineAuthor Search For more about Edgar Allan Poe, go toglencoe.com and enter QuickPass code GL49787u1.T H E S H O RT S T O RYLibrary of Congress0056 0057 U1P1 879302.indd 5612/4/07 11:06:14 AM

Literature and Reading PreviewConnect to the StoryWhat kinds of wrongs or injuries would make a person want totake revenge? Do you think getting revenge makes people feelbetter or worse? Discuss these questions with a partner.Build BackgroundSet Purposes for ReadingMatters of Life and DeathAs you read “The Cask of Amontillado,” ask yourself, How dodetails in the story evoke the idea of death?Literary ElementMoodMood is the emotional quality of a literary work. A writer’schoice of language, subject matter, setting, and tone, as well assuch sound devices as rhyme and rhythm, contribute to creating mood. As you read “The Cask of Amontillado,” ask yourself,What emotions does the writing make me feel?Reading StrategyParaphraseParaphrasing is putting something into your own words.Unlike a summary, a paraphrase is usually about the samelength as the original passage. As you read, ask yourself, Howwould I rephrase this passage to make it easier to understand?Tip: Make a Chart Paraphrase difficult sentences, or parts ofsentences, as you read.Author’s WordsMy Paraphrasep. 58I had put up with themany wrongs Fortunatodid to me as well as Icould.“The thousand injuries ofFortunato I had borne as Ibest could.”For pages 56 –66In studying this text, youwill focus on the followingobjectives:Literary Study: Analyzingmood.Reading: Paraphrasing.Much of this story is set in the catacombs of the Montresorfamily, which were also used as a wine cellar. Catacombs areunderground cemeteries. The walls of the narrow passagewaysare lined with niches where bodies are placed. Carnival is anoften uninhibited celebration involving costume parades, feasting, and other festivities. It takes place mainly in RomanCatholic regions during the weeks before Lent, a holy seasonof abstinence and prayer.Big IdeaLearning ObjectivesVocabularypreclude (pri klood ) v. toprevent; to make impossible;p. 58 Failing grades preclude thepossibility of playing in Friday’sbasketball game.impunity (im pū nə tē) n. freedom from punishment, harm, orbad consequences; p. 58 No onehere knew him, so he thought hecould lie with impunity.accost (ə kô st ) v. to approachand speak to, especially in anaggressive manner; p. 59 Thebeggars accost and scare theshoppers.explicit (eks plis it) adj.definitely stated, clearlyexpressed; p. 60 Ms. DePietrogave explicit instructions foreach stage of the assignment.implore (im plô r ) v. to askearnestly; to beg; p. 63 Someparents implore their childrento study.EDGAR ALLAN POE0056 0057 U1P1 879302.indd 575712/8/07 11:36:14 AM

edgar Allan PoeThe thousand injuries of Fortunato1 Ihad borne as I best could; but whenhe ventured upon insult, I vowedrevenge. You, who so well know the natureof my soul, will not suppose, however, thatI gave utterance to a threat. At length Iwould be avenged; this was a point definitively settled—but the very definitivenesswith which it was resolved, precluded theidea of risk. I must not only punish, but1. Fortunato (fôŕ too nä tō)Vocabularypreclude (pri klood ) v. to prevent; to make impossible58 U n i t 1punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes itsredresser. It is equally unredressed whenthe avenger fails to make himself felt assuch to him who has done the wrong.2It must be understood, that neither byword nor deed had I given Fortunato cause2. [A wrong is . . . done the wrong.] these sentences mightbe rephrased this way: “A wrong is not avenged if theavenger either is punished for taking revenge or does notmake the wrongdoer aware that he is taking revenge.”Vocabularyimpunity (im pū nə tē) n. freedom from punishment, harm, or bad consequencest h e s h o rt s t o ryErich Lessing/Art Resource, NY0058 0064 U1P1 879302.indd 5812/4/07 11:08:28 AM

to doubt my good-will. I continued, as wasmy wont, to smile in his face, and he didnot perceive that my smile now was at thethought of his immolation.3He had a weak point—this Fortunato—although in other regards he was a man tobe respected and even feared. He pridedhimself on his connoisseurship4 in wine.Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit.For the most part their enthusiasm isadopted to suit the time and opportunity—to practice imposture upon the British andAustrian millionnaires. In painting andgemmary Fortunato, like his countrymen,was a quack—but in thematter of old wines hewas sincere. In thisrespect I did not differfrom him materially: Iwas skillful in the Italianvintages myself, andbought largely wheneverI could.It was about dusk, oneevening during the supreme madness ofthe carnival season, that I encountered myfriend. He accosted me with excessivewarmth, for he had been drinking much.The man wore motley.5 He had on a tightfitting parti-striped dress, and his headwas surmounted by the conical cap andbells. I was so pleased to see him, that Ithought I should never have done wringing his hand.I said to him: “My dear Fortunato, youare luckily met. How remarkably well youare looking today! But I have received apipe of what passes for Amontillado,6 andI have my doubts.”“How?” said he. “Amontillado? A pipe?Impossible! And in the middle of thecarnival!”“I have my doubts,” I replied; “andI was silly enough to pay the fullAmontillado price without consultingyou in the matter. You were not to befound, and I was fearful of losing abargain.”“Amontillado!”“I have my doubts.”“Amontillado!”“And I must satisfythem.”“Amontillado!”“As you are engaged,I am on my way toLuchesi.7 If anyone has acritical turn, it is he. Hewill tell me——”“Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado fromSherry.”“And yet some fools will have it that histaste is a match for your own.”“Come, let us go.”“Whither?”“To your vaults.”“My friend, no; I will not impose uponyour good nature. I perceive you have anengagement. Luchesi—”“I have no engagement;—come.”“My friend, no. It is not the engagement,but the severe cold with which I perceive“How remarkablywell you arelooking today!”3. Here, immolation means “death or destruction.”4. Connoisseurship (koń ə sur ship) is expert knowledgethat qualifies one to pass judgment in a particular area.5. Motley is the multicolored costume of a court jester orclown.Matters of Life and Death What is the narrator’sattitude toward the destruction of Fortunato?Vocabularyaccost (ə kô st ) v. to approach and speak to,especially in an aggressive manner6. A pipe is a wine barrel that holds 126 gallons. Amontillado(ə môn tē yä dō) is a kind of pale, dry sherry from Spain.7. Luchesi (loo kā sē)Mood How would you characterize this opening exchangebetween the two main characters?EDGAR ALLAN POE0058 0064 U1P1 879302.indd 595912/8/07 11:38:20 AM

Carnival in Rome, 1839. Aleksandr PetrovichMyasoedov. Oil on canvas. State RussianMuseum, St. Petersburg.This painting depicts a streetscene during Carnival. How would youdescribe the atmosphere in this painting?How does it compare with the openingscene from this story?you are afflicted. The vaults areinsufferably damp. They areencrusted with niter.”8“Let us go, nevertheless.The cold is merely nothing.Amontillado! You have beenimposed upon. And as forLuchesi, he cannot distinguishSherry from Amontillado.”Thus speaking, Fortunatopossessed himself of my arm.Putting on a mask of black silk,and drawing a roquelaureclosely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to mypalazzo.9There were no attendants athome; they had absconded tomake merry in honor of thetime. I had told them that I should notreturn until the morning, and had giventhem explicit orders not to stir from thehouse. These orders were sufficient, I wellknew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my backwas turned.8. Niter is a salt-like substance found in cool, damp places.9. A roquelaure (rôk ə lor ) is a knee-length cloak that waspopular in the 1700s. A palazzo (pə lät sō) is a mansionor palace.Paraphrase Restate this sentence in your own words.Vocabularyexplicit (eks plis it) adj. definitely stated; clearlyexpressed60 U n i t 1I took from their sconces two flambeaux,10and giving one to Fortunato, bowed himthrough several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed downa long and winding staircase, requestinghim to be cautious as he followed. We cameat length to the foot of the descent, andstood together on the damp ground of thecatacombs of the Montresors.The gait of my friend was unsteady, andthe bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.“The pipe?” said he.“It is farther on,” said I; “but observe thewhite web-work which gleams from thesecavern walls.”10. Sconces are wall brackets that hold candles or torches,and flambeaux (flam bō ) are lighted torches.t h e s h o rt s t o ryState Russian Museum, St. Petersburg/Bridgeman Art Library0058 0064 U1P1 879302.indd 6012/4/07 11:08:38 AM

He turned toward me, and looked intomy eyes with two filmy orbs that distilledthe rheum of intoxication.11“Niter?” he asked, at length.“Niter,” I replied. “How long have youhad that cough?”“Ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh!ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!”My poor friend found it impossible toreply for many minutes.“It is nothing,” he said, at last.“Come,” I said, with decision, “we willgo back; your health is precious. You arerich, respected, admired, beloved; you arehappy, as once I was. You are a man to bemissed. For me it is no matter. We will goback; you will be ill, and I cannot beresponsible. Besides, there is Luchesi——”“Enough,” he said; “the cough is a merenothing; it will not kill me. I shall not dieof a cough.”“True—true,” I replied; “and, indeed, Ihad no intention of alarming you unnecessarily; but you should use all proper caution.A draft of this Medoc12 will defend us fromthe damps.”Here I knocked off the neck of a bottlewhich I drew from a long row of its fellowsthat lay upon the mold.“Drink,” I said, presenting him the wine.He raised it to his lips with a leer. Hepaused and nodded to me familiarly, whilehis bells jingled.“I drink,” he said, “to the buried thatrepose13 around us.”“And I to your long life.”He again took my arm, and we proceeded.11. [filmy orbs . . . intoxication] this phrase describesFortunato’s eyes as clouded and watery from excessivedrinking.12. Medoc (mā dôk ) is a French red wine. A draft is theamount taken in one swig or swallow.13. to repose is to lie at rest, either sleeping or in death.Mood What words in this passage suggest danger?“These vaults,” hesaid, “are extensive.”“The Montresors,”I replied, “were a greatand numerous family.”“I forget yourarms.”“A huge human footVisual Vocabularyd’or, in a field azure;Arms is short forthe foot crushes a ser“coat of arms,” anarrangement of figpent rampant14 whoseures and symbols onfangs are imbedded inor around a shieldthe heel.”that, along with amotto, represents“And the motto?”one’s ancestry.“Nemo me impunelacessit.”15“Good!” he said.The wine sparkled in his eyes and thebells jingled. My own fancy grew warmwith the Medoc. We had passed throughwalls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons16 intermingling, into the inmostrecesses of the catacombs. I paused again,and this time I made bold to seizeFortunato by an arm above the elbow.“The niter!” I said; “see, it increases.It hangs like moss upon the vaults. Weare below the river’s bed. The drops ofmoisture trickle among the bones. Come,we will go back ere it is too late. Yourcough——”“It is nothing,” he said; “let us go on.But first, another draft of the Medoc.”I broke and reached him a flagon17 ofDe Grâve. He emptied it at a breath. Hiseyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed14. the Montresor family’s coat of arms includes a goldenfoot on a sky-blue background and a snake rising up.15. the motto is Latin for “nobody provokes me withimpunity.”16. Casks and puncheons are large containers for storingliquids.17. the flagon is a narrow-necked bottle with a handle.Matters of Life and Death How do these details add tothe growing sense of entrapment in the story?eDGAr ALLAN Poe61Getty Images0058 0064 U1P1 879302.indd 6112/4/07 11:08:39 AM

and threw the bottle upward with a gesticulation I did not understand.I looked at him in surprise. He repeatedthe movement—a grotesque one.“You do not comprehend?” he said.“Not I,” I replied.“Then you are not of the brotherhood.”“How?”“You are not of the masons.”18“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”“You? Impossible! A mason?”“A mason,” I replied.“A sign,” he said.“It is this,” I answered, producing a trowelfrom beneath the folds of my roquelaure.“You jest,” he exclaimed, recoiling a fewpaces. “But let us proceed to theAmontillado.”“Be it so,” I said, replacing the toolbeneath the cloak, and again offering himmy arm. He leaned upon it heavily.We continued our route in search of theAmontillado. We passed through a rangeof low arches, descended, passed on, anddescending again, arrived at a deep crypt,19in which the foulness of the air caused ourflambeaux rather to glow than flame.At the most remote end of the crypt thereappeared another less spacious. Its wallshad been lined with human remains, piledto the vault overhead, in the fashion of thegreat catacombs of Paris. Three sides of thisinterior crypt were still ornamented in thismanner. From the fourth the bones had beenthrown down, and lay promiscuously uponthe earth, forming at one point a mound ofsome size. Within the wall thus exposed bythe displacing of the bones, we perceived astill interior recess, in depth about four feet,in width three, in height six or seven. Itseemed to have been constructed for noespecial use within itself, but formed merely18. Here, masons is short for “Freemasons,” an organizationof stonecutters and bricklayers that was formed in theMiddle Ages. By the time of this story, the masons hadbecome a social group with secret rituals and signs.19. A crypt is a burial chamber.62 U n i t 1Mood What emotion does the description in thisparagraph create?t h e s h o rt s t o rySeamas Culligan/ZUMA/CORBIS0058 0064 U1P1 879302.indd 6212/4/07 11:08:40 AM

the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and wasbacked by one of their circumscribing wallsof solid granite.It was in vain that Fortunato, upliftinghis dull torch, endeavored to pry20 into thedepth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see.“Proceed,” I said;“herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchesi——”“He is an ignoramus,”interrupted my friend, ashe stepped unsteadilyforward, while I followed immediately at hisheels. In an instant hehad reached the extremity of the niche,21 and finding his progressarrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered22him to the granite. In its surface were twoiron staples, distant from each other abouttwo feet, horizontally. From one of thesedepended a short chain, from the other apadlock. Throwing the links about hiswaist, it was but the work of a few secondsto secure it. He was too much astounded toresist. Withdrawing the key I stepped backfrom the recess.“Pass your hand,” I said, “over the wall;you cannot help feeling the niter. Indeed itis very damp. Once more let me imploreyou to return. No? Then I must positivelyleave you. But I must first render you allthe little attentions in my power.”“The Amontillado!” ejaculated my friend,not yet recovered from his astonishment.“True,” I replied; “the Amontillado.”As I said these words I busied myselfamong the pile of bones of which I havebefore spoken. Throwing them aside, Isoon uncovered a quantity of building stoneand mortar. With thesematerials and with theaid of my trowel, Ibegan vigorously towall up the entrance ofthe niche.I had scarcely laid thefirst tier of the masonrywhen I discovered that the intoxication ofFortunato had in a great measure worn off.The earliest indication I had of this was alow moaning cry from the depth of therecess. It was not the cry of a drunken man.There was then a long and obstinatesilence. I laid the second tier, and the third,and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noiselasted for several minutes, during which,that I might hearken to it with the moresatisfaction, I ceased my labors and satdown upon the bones. When at last theclanking subsided, I resumed the trowel,and finished without interruption the fifth,the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wallwas now nearly upon a level with mybreast. I again paused, and holding theflambeaux over the mason-work, threwa few feeble rays upon the figure within.A succession of loud and shrill screams,bursting suddenly from the throat of thechained form, seemed to thrust me violently“Indeed it isvery damp.”20. Here, pry means “to look closely; peer.”21. Here, the extremity of the niche (nich) is the farthestspot inside the recess.22. Fettered means “bound with chains or shackles;restrained.”Paraphrase Restate these sentences in your own words.Vocabularyimplore (im plô r ) v. to ask earnestly; to begMatters of Life and Death What does Fortunato finallyrealize?eDGAr ALLAN Poe0058 0064 U1P1 879302.indd 636312/4/07 11:08:40 AM

back. For a briefmoment I hesitated—I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I beganto grope with it aboutthe recess; but thethought of an instantreassured me. I placedmy hand upon thesolid fabric of theVisual Vocabularycatacombs, and feltA rapier (rā pē ər)satisfied. I reapis a long, lightproached the wall.weight sword witha sharp point butI replied to the yellsno cutting edge.of him who clamored.I re-echoed—I aided—I surpassed them in volume and in str

Poe is classified as an American Romantic writer, a detective fiction writer, and a Gothic writer. Some critics refer to Poe as the first truly modern writer because he probed the individual and the mystery of the self. The Cask of Amontillado 56 UNIT 1 THE SHORT STORY Author Search For more about Edgar Allan Poe, go to