Themes and symbolism of the Amontillado Barrel

Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. Nevertheless, abstract ideas are often difficult to analyze without help. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts and master the analysis of literary elements.

In the classroom, students can trace the rich symbolism that Poe uses to send a strong lesson to the reader to understand the story more deeply.

Themes, motifs, and images to explore and discuss

Poe uses irony in many of his works. A specific example in this story is the name "Fortunato," which means "lucky" in Italian. Despite his name, Fortunato's fate is certainly unfortunate.

Carnivals and Masquerades

These events set the stage for many of Poe's horror stories. In "The Barrel," the setting of the carnival takes on a double meaning. Normally, carnival is a time of happiness and fellowship. However, it is also a time of disguise and deception. Montresor uses these motives to his advantage, luring Fortunato to his death with a bottle of wine.

The voice of the dead

Death is a recurring motif that Poe endorses in his works and their messages. Poe uses the story of Fortunato's death to ask the question, "Is revenge always justified?" Note that Poe never tells the reader exactly what Fortunato did or said. Montresor simply states that he has been insulted. This leaves the reader questioning the validity of Montresors actions.

The cask of amontillado summary

Themes of the cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe is a story inspired by actual events that took place on Castle Island, a former military fort near Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. When Poe served there as a young cadet in the army, he found a tombstone of sorts. After some investigation, he learned the story of a man who had been walled up alive. Forbidden by his commanding officer to ever repeat the details, Poe took the storyline, changed the setting and characters, and wrote the story.

The action takes place in Italy during a carnival. The narrator, Montresor, without going into detail, explains that he has a grudge to settle with Fortunato, who has insulted him. Both connoisseurs of wine, Montresor lures Fortunato to his catacombs, promising him a bottle of fine Amontillado wine.

When the two men go to the catacombs, Fortunato has no idea that his friend will betray him. Fortunato is sick, struggling with a severe cough. Surprisingly, Montresor convinces his friend to turn back. Obsessed with irony and foreshadowing, Fortunato declares: "I will not die of coughing," and Montresor continues.

When the men finally reach the base of the crypt, Montresor has bricks and mortar waiting. He chains Fortunato to the wall and seals him alive.


Although murder is the central theme of the story, it cannot be categorized as a detective genre; The Cask of Amontillado does not describe the investigation of the crime; the perpetrator tells the story himself. The mystery of the story is that the motive for the murder remains unknown to the reader. Thus, the whole "detective" part is left to him; the reader is free to speculate on the backstory of the murder himself.

Although Montresor does not reveal the reasons for his act, he mentions the "thousands of humiliations" he allegedly endured from Fortunato. Many commentators conclude from this strange explanation that Montresor is probably insane, but even this version raises questions, since Montresor is very cunning and calculating in his actions.

Fortunato is presented as a fine connoisseur of expensive wines, but even this is questionable. He was drunk to the point where he could hardly appreciate the authenticity of an amontillado. Moreover, during one of his stops on the way to the cask, Fortunato drinks a flask of expensive French wine in a volley, which does him no credit as a connoisseur.

It is possible that Poe was no stranger to the work of a bricklayer. He had to earn his living by various jobs, and there are many "blank spots" in his biography.