Edgar Allan Poe crafted a perfect murder mystery in The Cask of Amontillado. Great murders have strong motives; however, Montresor appears to have none. Is he insane? Absolutely, and that’s a perfectly rational explanation for burying a drunk old friend alive. Unfortunately for Montresor I am as stubborn as a student looking to get an excellent grade on his paper. My purpose was to expose him, and I did. Wikipedia had some excellent theories on the murder and I went to the cited works provided to find what I could.
“He insulted me, disgraced me in front of them. It wasn’t just his wine you see? My family owned the trading business, and as part of the Freemasons I could control the routes through politics. We were the kings and queens, but he took everything!”
“You are a fool,” he bared his small, yellow teeth at me. “I lost money trying to get my way back in. A lot of it mind you, enough to kill a man. He who was once a friend had become enemy. Wine became more lucrative when he replaced me; but I didn’t have much to give. So he took everything and gloated about his peculiar tastes in drink, as if every other drunkard knew nothing. How could I stand by and let the entire world fall to its knees for a drunkard?”
The overall structure of the story, I think (as did my Lit professor and Mom), follows Poe’s themes. It’s all in the imagery, the dark places, the characters, the history of important events or places integrated brilliantly into the story, and finally, murder. In the Poe stories I’ve read someone always dies without fail. Personally I enjoyed Montresor’s speech patterns the most; “Are you under drink?” Seriously man, no one talks like that anymore. Other parts I liked were the spiders in the beginning, Mr. Luchesi, and the revealing of the Montresor family motto.
As the sequel to an established universe I had no choice but to bring shout outs or continuity to the piece. Mr. Luchesi is Fortunato’s rival wine connoisseur in the original story- only mentioned, never seen. The awesome family crest is also never seen, and I thought it was fitting to have it revealed under crumbling old age. Set in modern times, Montresor’s land would have been sold to someone else as the value fell after his death. He didn’t really mean anything anymore; he was a ghost story. Due to the length restraints I couldn’t put in the spiral staircase, but claustrophobia (as seen in The Descent) seemed more frightening.
In the end, it was great experience to see what I could do with other characters. I especially like to modernize them. Currently I am working on a modern H. P. Lovecraft thriller featuring the penultimate Cthulhu and another very, very nasty Old One.