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Themes

The contrast between freedom and confinement is extreme in “The Cask of Amontillado.” For one character to be free, another must die. Most of the story takes place in a vast and incredibly foul smelling catacomb, or underground graveyard. Dead bodies (or at least bones) abound. Freedom becomes less and less of a possibility as the characters move into smaller and smaller crypts, each one more disgusting than the last. Such confinement makes both the readers and the characters appreciate the deliciousness of fresh air. Hopefully, it makes us, the readers, think more deeply about what makes us feel trapped, and what makes us feel free.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. Is Montresor free at the end of the story? If so, why do you think so? If you think he’s trapped, why?
  2. Did Fortunato ever really have a chance to escape? If so, when? If there was a moment when it became too late for Fortunato to get away, when do you think it was?
  3. How does this story comment on psychological freedom and psychological confinement?
  4. Who is more psychologically trapped, Fortunato or Montresor? Why?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Even though Fortunato dies and Montresor lives, Fortunato is still the freer character of the two.

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