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Course Hero. "The Cask of Amontillado Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 16 Dec. 2018. <>.

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The Cask of Amontillado | Motifs



The dampness of the dark crypt (a setting typical to Gothic literature) enhances the story's mood and tension, and it also intensifies Fortunato's illness. Montresor repeatedly points out the danger of the dampness to Fortunato, knowing that his ego will cause him to disregard the warnings and compel him onward.


Masquerade plays both a literal and figurative role throughout the story. The tradition of masquerade during carnival gives celebrants the freedom to abandon reality, invert social norms, and cross boundaries, all of which can be seen in the events of the story. Interestingly, Fortunato's dress in carnival costume actually reveals his true nature as a fool. And throughout the story, Montresor masquerades as Fortunato's friend in order to draw him into the crypt and expose his true murderous intentions.


Because of its role in Christian communion, wine is strongly associated with life, and red wine is associated with blood. Therefore, in offering the rare Amontillado, Montresor is offering Fortunato a chance at a wonderful life. The wine is both Fortunato's enticement and his downfall. The motif of wine resonates with that of masquerade as well: both Montresor and Fortunato claim to be wine connoisseurs, but Montresor is very casual in how he opens the first two bottles of wine mentioned (the Medoc and the De Grave). True experts would not open wine this way and would not guzzle it the way Fortunato does.

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