The Cask of Amontillado
by Edgar Allan Poe
A short story first published in Godey's Lady's Book, November 1846.
In a story applauded for every element being essential to plot and tone, an aristocrat, insulted once again by an enemy, buries him alive.
The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled--but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. 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.
It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.
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. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practise imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially;--I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.
It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.
PORTRAIT: Edgar Allan Poe by Samuel Stillman (1845).
CITATION INFORMATION (in MLA format): Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Cask of Amontillado." Gleeditions, 17 Apr. 2011, www.gleeditions.com/thecaskofamontillado/students/pages.asp?lid=104&pg=4. Originally published in Selected Tales of Mystery, by Edgar Allan Poe, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1909, pp. 416-21.