The Cask of Amontillado
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 I 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 connoisseur-ship 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.
I said to him—“My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”
“How?” said he. “Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”
“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”
“I have my doubts.”
“And I must satisfy them.”
“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me—”
“Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.”
“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”
“Come, let us go.”
“To your vaults.”
“My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchesi—”
“I have no engagement;—come.”
“My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre.”
“Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You have been imposed upon. And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado.”
Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm; and putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo.
There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.
I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.
The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.
“The pipe,” he said.
“It is farther on,” said I; “but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.”
He turned towards me, and looked into my eves with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.
“Nitre?” he asked, at length.
“Nitre,” I replied. “How long have you had that cough?”
“Ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!”
My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.
“It is nothing,” he said, at last.
“Come,” I said, with decision, “we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi—”
“Enough,” he said; “the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.”
“True—true,” I replied; “and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily—but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps.
Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould.
“Drink,” I said, presenting him the wine.
He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled.
“I drink,” he said, “to the buried that repose around us.”
“And I to your long life.”
He again took my arm, and we proceeded.
“These vaults,” he said, “are extensive.”
“The Montresors,” I replied, “were a great and numerous family.”
“I forget your arms.”
“A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.”
“And the motto?”
“Nemo me impune lacessit.”
“Good!” he said.
The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunato by an arm above the elbow.
“The nitre!” I said; “see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough—”
“It is nothing,” he said; “let us go on. But first, another draught of the Medoc.”
I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grâve. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.
I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement—a grotesque one.
“You do not comprehend?” he said.
“Not I,” I replied.
“Then you are not of the brotherhood.”
“You are not of the masons.”
“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”
“You? Impossible! A mason?”
“A mason,” I replied.
“A sign,” he said, “a sign.”
“It is this,” I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my roquelaire.
“You jest,” he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. “But let us proceed to the Amontillado.”
“Be it so,” I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.
At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior crypt or recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.
It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth 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, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In niche, and finding an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess.
“Pass your hand,” I said, “over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the 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 myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.
I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man. There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within.
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.
It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in its destined position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fortunato. The voice said—
“Ha! ha! ha!—he! he! he!—a very good joke, indeed—an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo—he! he! he!—over our wine—he! he! he!”
“The Amontillado!” I said.
“He! he! he!—he! he! he!—yes, the Amontillado. But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone.”
“Yes,” I said, “let us be gone.”
“For the love of God, Montresor!”
“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God!”
But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud—
No answer. I called again—
No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!
Montresor constantly addresses Fortunato as "my friend" and refers to him as "my friend." He is not being ironic. He wants to have everyone think that he and Fortunato are the best of friends. Consequently he has conditioned himself to think of Fortunato as his friend in spite of the fact that he hates him and plans to kill him. When Fortunato's disappearance is discovered there will be a thorough investigation--but no one will suspect Montresor of foul play because the two men were known to be such great friends.— William Delaney
Once again Montresor pretends to think Fortunato is expected somewhere. This time Fortunato gives him the answer that satisfies him and frees him to go ahead with his revenge.— William Delaney
Montresor is fishing for information. He wants to make sure that Fortunato is not expected anywhere that evening because he wants to leave a cold trail. If, for example, Fortunato were expected at home and didn't show up, his wife might send out relatives and servants to find him. Montresor would like Fortunato's disappearance to go unnoticed until the next day at the earliest. By then many people would remember having seen him but would not remember anything else.— William Delaney
The reader may suspect that Fortunato is already planning to tell Montresor that his wine is only ordinary sherry, regardless of whether or not it is genuine. Montresor has supposedly gotten the cask at a "bargain" price. Fortunato would like to buy the rest of the cargo of Amontillado at a bargain price and eliminate both Montresor and Luchesi as competitors in bargaining with the seller.— William Delaney
The story is all about how Montresor lures Fortunato underground where he can murder him and dispose of his body without being suspected of the crime. That is the story problem. The fact that Fortunato is so conspicuously dressed might seem to make Montresor's problem harder; but in fact the jester's costume and the cap-and-bells are an asset because Fortunato attracts all the attention and makes Montresor, dressed all in black and wearing a black mask, like a shadow. It doesn't matter how many people remember seeing Fortunato, as long as they don't remember seeing anyone with him on the night of his disappearance.— William Delaney
A pipe is a barrel containing 126 gallons of wine, or 500 quart bottles. Montresor would not buy so much sweetish gourmet sherry wine for personal consumption. This strongly suggests that he supposedly bought the pipe for resale and that he makes his living buying and selling valuable things when opportunities arise. It further suggests that Fortunato is a sometime competitor and sometime business associate. Both men may think of themselves as aristocrats, and there were many aristocrats in Venice who made such livings on relatively precarious enterprises.— William Delaney
Notice how Montresor uses Luchesi's name to incite Fortunato's ego and pride. When the dark and foreboding setting gives Fortunato a reason to turn back, Montresor's manipulation of his ego urges him to move forward.— Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
The Catacombs of Paris are the largest in the world, and hold the remains of more than six million people. The Catacombs were founded in 1786 when city officials struggled to address overflowing cemeteries and the caving-in of other catacombs and graves. The Catacombs of Paris became a tourist attraction beginning in the 19th century.— Sarah St. Albin, Owl Eyes Staff
These words have also been read as a sign that the hate and pride, which may have caused Montresor to kill Fortunato, have devoured his soul and destroyed his humanity. When read in this way, the final line suggests that Montresor confesses this story as a form of repentance. The "rest in peace" then takes on a double meaning: as he has now told the story, both his conscious and Fortunato can rest in peace.— Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
These final words (which translate to "rest in piece") are not ironic but completely sincere. Fortunato has been dead for fifty years, and Montresor no longer has any of the ill feelings he had for the man. That, in fact, was the whole purpose of his plot to kill him. He wanted to rid himself of his exceedingly painful inner feelings of resentment and rage. Montresor specified at the beginning that he wanted to achieve the perfect revenge. The last words verify that he has succeeded in doing so to his complete satisfaction. He has created a masterpiece of revenge.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Nitre is another word for the mineral form of potassium nitrate. This mineral is toxic when breathed for extended periods of time or in high concentration. Poe deliberately gives Fortunato a severe cold for a purpose, as the nitre makes him frequently cough and keeps him from asking a lot of difficult questions about the Amontillado that Montresor might not be able to answer.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
In the beginning of the story, Montresor explains that an essential aspect of revenge is for the victim to be aware of the situation. This means Fortunato must become sober enough to understand that Montresor is taking his revenge upon him. Montresor designs his plot of revenge with this in mind, chaining Fortunato up and then allowing him to slowly realize what has happened.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Having sobered up and realized his situation, Fortunato tries to manipulate Montresor by appealing to the false sense of friendship between the two characters instead of pleading for his freedom. Poe insinuates that Fortunato’s manipulative character has not changed, even when his only real hope for survival is begging for mercy.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe seems to have created an extended metaphor where the vault represents the cask and Fortunato represents the Amontillado. In the end, Montresor places the final stone to lock Fortunato in the vault forever, just as he would use a keystone to seal Amontillado in a cask. Thus, the figurative Cask of Amontillado becomes the literal tomb of Fortunato.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe strategically uses this French wine to play on the English phrase “of the grave.” Poe’s careful word choice contributes to the story both literally and figuratively. In this case, we see how this subtle choice foreshadows the characters' destination.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
This Latin phrase translated to, “No one attacks me with impunity.” This all-too-appropriate motto, along with the lurid coat of arms, are most likely totally fictitious. Montresor may be inventing them for the pleasure of hinting at what he intends to do to Fortunato. Fortunado's response suggests that he doesn't understand Latin and is only pretending to understand the motto.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Poe continues to mention the jingling of the bells on Fortunato’s cap in order to remind readers of how Fortunado’s jester costume symbolizes the foolish nature of his character--which has yet to change in the story.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Rheum is a thick watery discharge from the eyes. Poe uses vivid description in this line to emphasize how intoxicated Fortunato currently is. Notice how Poe continues to use Fortunato’s intoxication to help Montresor set the stage for his revenge.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe, like his character Montresor, knew what it was to fall on hard times. After a falling out with his wealthy foster father, Poe lost his high social status, and suffered from chronic financial troubles--as well as alcoholism--for the rest of his life. A quarrel Poe had with two other poets may also have inspired his tale of revenge.— Jules, Owl Eyes Staff
A roquelaire is an 18th century, knee-length men’s cloak that is worn over the shoulders. Poe juxtaposes Fortunato’s colorful jester’s costume with Montresor’s dark, villainous outfit, turning what could be a macabre story into one that’s slightly humorous.— Yasmeen, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe indicates a touch of madness in Montresor with these lines. Montresor seems to relish screaming at his victim after having made certain Fortunado has not escaped. In so doing, Montresor also reassures himself of the thickness of the catacomb walls--no one will hear either of their screams, and Fortunado has no way out.— Jules, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe gives insight as to what Montresor’s “thousand injuries” might be. Fortunato knows that this palazzo hasn’t been in Montresor’s family for generations, and his sneer indicates that he looks down on Montresor because of his lower social status. Notice how Fortunato continues to insult Montresor with his condescending tone.— Yasmeen, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe alludes here to the Masons, a fraternal organization which was widely considered sacrilegious during his time. By making Fortunado a Mason, Poe taps into the then-widespread sentiment against the group, as well as further illustrates Fortunado’s sense of superiority to Montresor.— Jules, Owl Eyes Staff
Fortunato cannot believe that Montresor would be accepted as a Mason because of his social standing, making his accusation another one of Montresor’s “thousand injuries.” Montresor’s reply reveals more of Poe’s dark humor, as the pun foreshadows Montresor’s plan for revenge against Fortunato.— Yasmeen, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe’s choice to have Fortunato in a jester costume (motley), complete with canonical cap with bells, symbolizes Fortunato’s foolishness: he is easily persuaded to follow Montresor and rarely questions him. As Fortunato continues to be tricked, it is only fitting that he look the part.— Yasmeen, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe uses dramatic irony to reinforce Montresor’s deceitful nature and provide some dark humor. The reader knows that Fortunato is not in danger of dying from a cold, but rather of being murdered by Montresor. Montresor’s consolation is just a ruse to lead Fortunato closer to his death.— Yasmeen, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe once famously stated that not a single word should be wasted in a short story. Here, then, his repetition is intentional: He uses it to emphasize how seriously the nitre is affecting Fortunado as well as the fact that Fortunado remains determined to sample the Amontillado in spite of his violent cough.— Jules, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe uses irony to characterize Montresor as hypocritical. While Montresor criticizes Fortunato for being deceitful, Montresor himself is being deceitful by luring Fortunato to his house under false pretenses to murder him.— Yasmeen, Owl Eyes Staff
Notice how Poe abruptly ends one scene and opens another immediately in the next line. The reader is given the impression that the two men arrived at Montresor's palazzo with great haste and without any unforeseen problems such as bumping into a common acquaintance along the way.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Poe sets his story during the carnival season in order to give Montresor the perfect cover for his plan. Like everyone else on the streets of Venice, Fortunato is drunk and in a festive mood, which makes him easier to fool. The carnival also distracts the attention of any bystanders who might otherwise notice Monstresor leading Fortunato to his palazzo.— Jules, Owl Eyes Staff
Fortunato knows that Montresor has experience and knowledge with Italian wines to purchase them without expert advice. Given that Montresor is a French name, Fortunado would also likely believe Montresor to not need his help judging French wines. These reasons are why Montresor uses a rare Spanish wine, the prized Amontillado, to appeal to Fortunato’s arrogance and lure him into his snare.— Jules, Owl Eyes Staff
Having told his initial lie about buying the wine at a bargain price, Montresor cannot afford to allow Fortunato time to make inquiries. By repeatedly suggesting that Luchesi could verify the Amontillado, Montresor deliberately provokes a prideful reaction from Fortunado, ensuring that he leave the carnival with Montresor.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
In Catholic countries such as Italy and France, this is the period just before Lent when everyone celebrates to excess. Part of the celebration is to wear costumes that hide one's identity--a perfect time for Montresor to go unnoticed. The carnival season identifies the setting as Venice, whose carnival is world-famous and still attracts hordes of tourists.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Recall the earlier pun regarding Montresor's status as a mason and as a source of dark humor. When the pun is first presented, drunken Fortunato thinks his friend is being a fool. Now the trowel that he thought of as a joke is the instrument of Montresor's ruthless revenge.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Having learned that Montresor intends to take revenge upon Fortunato we know that this meeting is anything but lucky for Fortunato. Poe's use of situational irony here helps shape Montresor's character by showing the ease with which he misleads the victim of his revenge, whom he calls his friend.— Evan, Owl Eyes Staff
Poe uses alcohol as a plot device throughout the story. In this passage, we learn that Fortunato's obsession with wine allows Montresor the opportunity to take advantage of it. Note how Montresor continues to use wine throughout the rest of the story to achieve his gruesome goal.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Poe's word choice here indicates something much more than simple murder; rather, it suggests a more spiritual element to Montresor's revenge due to how *immolation* has connotations of offering (burning) something as a sacrifice.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Poe has his narrator, Montresor, address his story to someone who already knows him in what seems like a confidential letter. Structuring the story in this way allows Poe to leave out a lot of exposition and allows Poe to avoid having to explain the nature of the "thousand injuries."— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Poe utilizes a stylistic principle in this paragraph by having the most important words come at the end of sentences. Note how each word adds to the power of the line, the prose, and to the overall mood and tone of the piece.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Poe's choice for the antagonist's name indicates that he intended it to be ironic—a dominant element in the story—because as the victim he is certainly not fortunate, and his fortune, or money, doesn't assist him in any way.— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
This creates interesting parallelism because earlier Fortunato had "recoiled" from, or been psychologically thrust back by, Montresor's gesture in "jest" of membership in Freemasons. > "You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces.— Karen P.L. Hardison
This means that Fortunato had come to end of the recess in the granite wall. He had expected to find the Amontillado but had only found the granite rock wall of the remotest side of the catacombs. He was trapped there although he didn't understand this. The choice of "arrested" also adds to the ominous mood because of the associations it has with jail.— Karen P.L. Hardison
The "colossal supports" refers to what part of the setting that was already described?— Karen P.L. Hardison
Review: What is this a hint or clue about; what does it hint that Montresor has done?— Karen P.L. Hardison
Why does Montresor make a point of "putting on a mask of black silk"?— Karen P.L. Hardison
Why was Montresor careful to avoid giving Fortunato cause to doubt his "good will" toward Fortunato?— Karen P.L. Hardison
What idea does struggling "with its weight" suggest about revenge?— Karen P.L. Hardison
A very important country at the time "The Cask of Amontillado" was written, Austria was landlocked and bordered by Italy on the south. Much valuable merchandise would travel to Vienna through Venice, situated on the Adriatic and the closest large port.— William Delaney
Fortunato thought nothing of seizing Montresor by the arm and dragging him off to find the Amontillado, but Montresor has to "make bold" to use such familiarity with Fortunato. This juxtaposition illustrates the difference in their social positions.— William Delaney
A tool masons use to smooth the mortar when laying bricks. Also, a great *irony*--Fortunato is so drunk he doesn't even wonder what Montresor is doing with a trowel.— Stephen Holliday
This is the only time Fortunato calls Montresor by name. Poe wants to assure the reader that Fortunato is now fully sober and understands what is happening, why it is happening, and who is making it happen, so that Montresor can have the revenge he wants.— William Delaney
This literary device allows Poe to leave out a lot of exposition, since the person being addressed already knows so much about Montresor, who seems to be writing a confidential letter. This fictional device allows Poe to avoid having to explain the nature of the "thousand injuries," which a great many readers have also speculated about.— William Delaney