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Analytical Inquiry of Poe's "cask of Amontillado"

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Analytic Inquiry 5

Who is speaking in this story and who is he speaking to? How might these aspects of the

narrative influence our understanding of the story?

Poe gives us very little direct information about the identity of the speaker or the audience,

though the reader can deduce quite a bit from just a few lines. The speaker's surname is

Montresor, and, judging by the extent of the family catacombs, he belongs to an old and possibly

wealthy family. The only mention of the audience is in the first paragraph, when Montresor

addresses the listener, saying "You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose,

however, that I gave utterance to a threat." Clearly, then, the audience is a single person who is

very close to the speaker and knows him well. At the very end of the story, Montresor says that

for "the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them" (the bones). This indicates that

Fortunado's demise took place around 50 years prior to the telling of the story, and that, in the

story's present, Montresor is an old man. We don't know if this is the only time he has told

anyone the story; however, if it is, it could be his "deathbed confession." Even if it isn't, though,

it is important that he still remembers the story in such detail after so long. It was clearly an

event that affected him for the rest of his life. It is also interesting that, at the very end of the

story, Montresor mentions that his "heart grew sick." He says that "it was the dampness of the

catacombs that made it so" - since we have established that the story is being told after a long

period of time, this shows that this observation is no only Montresor's opinion of what made his

heart sick, but also that it is the reason Montresor has, after so many years, chosen to believe and

tell himself. This could affect the reader's interpretation of the different elements throughout the

whole story.

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