No quiero aprovecharme de tu bondad. No se trata de tus ocupaciones, pero veo que tienes un fuerte catarro. Este catarro no es nada. En cuanto a Lucresi, es incapaz de distinguir entre jerez y amontillado.

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A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated--I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clamoured.

I re-echoed--I aided--I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still.

I read this story several times, trying to grasp the level of madness from which he suffers. Is this truly a tale of revenge as he states to us in the beginning, or is it a tale of jealousy fueled by insanity? Poor Fortunato, who is not fortunate at all, believes he is with a friend when he ventures down into the Montresorian Vaults to taste a cask of Amontillado.

It is carnival in this unnamed Italian city, and Fortunato is dressed as a fool, and he is so drunk that, though he calls himself a wine expert, I am led to believe he is more of a drunken sod than an connoisseur. It has been almost debilitating for them. Every molehill becomes a mountain in their minds. Most of us just slough those things off like a sprinkle of rain, but to thin skinned people, those slights become a torrential downpour of despair and projected animosity.

Montresor believes that Fortunato looks down upon him. The question is, depending on how you read this tale, is Montresor the snake being crushed or is he the embedded fangs?

Maybe, he is both. Montresor expects Fortunato to insult him, so every odd look or misplaced word from Fortunato becomes a condemnation of his friend, Montresor.

Montresor might feel crushed, but he is about to embed his fangs. Fortunato makes a symbolic motion with his arm and discovers that Montresor is not a Mason, though Montresor insists that he is, even showing Fortunato the trowel that is in his hand as proof.

Of course, showing the trowel is great foreshadowing for the final act of immurement. The fact that Fortunato does not believe Montresor is further proof that he despises him. Montresor could have enacted his revenge anywhere. It is carnival season. The perfect time for a strangulation, a knifing, a drowning or a bludgeoning, and Fortunato would just be thought of as an unfortunate victim of some ruffians, but Montresor wants something more.

He wants Fortunato to forever reside among the bones of his ancestors. He wants to OWN him forever. The revenge, if that is what this is, will never end.

Illustration by Harry Clarke. There are a couple of points, too, where he suggests to Fortunato that they should turn back, but he tempered each of those suggestions with a prod that would insure that his inebriated friend would want to continue.

Is this a demented way to assuage his guilt? Edgar Allan Poe is most assuredly playing with your mind as he does in most of his stories. He sprinkles little clues that for the discerning reader are there to be discovered. My suggestion is to read this story a few times, and each time, hopefully, a new layer of the story will reveal itself to you.

This is an excellent example of Poe and by some people considered his best short story.


El barril de amontillado

No quiero abusar de su amabilidad. Los criados no estaban en la casa. Pero observe usted esos blancos festones que brillan en las paredes de la cueva. A mi pobre amigo le fue imposible contestar hasta pasados unos minutos.


O Barril de Amontillado






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