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“The Cask of Amontillado” Literary Analysis Paragraphs: Class debriefing English 2AP Mrs. Link
Define “interpretation” Interpretation –an explanation or establishment of the meaning or significance of something Literary analysis –Presents your interpretation of some aspect of the literature You need an ARGUMENT –Arguments must be substantiated with text and explanation
Understand YOUR argument Main argument was hubris (excessive pride) led to his own demise, yet some ended up focusing on the many “things” Fortunato didn’t see (too proud to see the signs, etc.) –Examples ended being about instances where he didn’t see something that would’ve been painfully obvious to others Discussion (& examples) should have been about Fortunato proving to be arrogantly proud and overconfident.
Claim: Because he’s drunk… Further clouding his judgment is his acceptance of a drink from Montressor, despite already having two eyes that are “two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication”. His foolhardy decision stems from his false sense of power and control for the situation. It never crosses Fortunato’s mind that Montressor may wish him harm, despite Montressor’s coat of arms: “Nemo me impune lacessit”.
Quotes Meant solely for SUPPORT –They are to backup what you are claiming is true Provide the context for the quote Need to be embedded so carefully that we can’t tell where the actual quote starts/ends when the entire sentence is read aloud AVOID Stand alone quotes Introducing with a colon (:) Dialogue: paraphrase one speaker and quote the other, preferably the stronger one Don’t change the meaning of the quote Ellipsis is meant to take out parts of a quote you don’t need, but it should still make sense
Quote does NOT support an argument His ignorance blinds his surroundings from him and lures him in “the catacombs of the Montressors” where the rare Amontillado is hidden. –Don’t waste a quote like this—you can EASILY paraphrase this
Don’t change the meaning The cocky man abashes other wine experts when “he [ironically is the one who] cannot distinguish sherry from Amontillado”.
No context = confusion Fortunato drinks more wine while in the catacombs such as the Medoc for “the buried that repose around us. And I to your long life.” –Although we know what part in the story this quote refers to, we don’t understand how it fits into what you’re saying here. Who is “us”, “I”, “your”, and why is s/he drinking to her/his “long life”? –S.O.S. anyone??
Embed your quotes F steps in and is chained onto the wall by Montressor, and, all the while, F is “yet [to be] recovered from his astonishment”. It is with scorn that that Fortunato responds: “Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from sherry,” a statement obviously stemming from his self-confidence and hubris, and which also outlines him as a fool. His attire shows him to be one as well, dressed in a “tight-fitting parti- striped dress, and his head surmounted by the conical cap and bells.”
So what? Thesis development: Establishing a claim that is then “developed” (furthered, shown, proven, etc.) throughout your essay EVERY line goes back to the claim(s) presented in that thesis/topic sentence.
Sample Paragraph This paragraph focuses on “blindness” instead of moments of excessive pride; in other words, thesis development can be improved.
Fortunato’s extreme hubris and foolish nature leads to his own destruction. Montressor says that “[Fortunato] had a weak point…He pride[s] himself” (1). Other people can see F’s flaws, this shows how truly flawed F is. However, Montressor is able to use F’s flaws against him. When they first meet, M says, “I am on my way to Luchresi”. M knows that F’s excessive pride will not be stopped. While going to the Amontillado, F’s foolishness causes him not to notice all the warning signs. He is lead through a “winding staircase…[to] the damp ground of the catacombs” (2). This should have been a warning sign, F could have realized that there shouldn’t be wine stored in catacomb. There are other warnings F missed, like the multiple times M offered for them to leave. F is so blindsided by his pride and intoxicated with his foolishness he cannot see the biggest warning sign. M, “produc[ed] from beneath the folds…a trowel” (2). The trowel is a red flag, but he is too blind to see anything but the amontillado and his pride to see the warning signs. F boasts of his knowledge of wine, but his boasting causes him to be foolish. F claimed that “Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from sherry” (1). Amontillado is a sherry, F is so engrossed in proving himself right, he does not realize he is wrong. F’s pride blinds him and causes him to be foolish, resulting in his demise.
Sample Paragraph This paragraph has good thesis development. It focused on moments of excessive pride to show that this was what led to F’s downfall.
Consumed by hubris, F ultimately brings about his own destruction. He fails to realize that he is swiftly falling into the highly conspicuous trap that his enemy, M, has established. F’s excessive pride is first exhibited when he speaks with M: “‘I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me—’ ‘Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from sherry.’” When M praises Luchresi, F’s hubris is kicked to a start. Angered and jealous of the misdirected attention, he decides to put down Luchresi to make himself appear more knowledgeable. After hearing that Montressor has Amontillado, he seizes the opportunity to flaunt his connoisseurship in wine. F commands, “‘Come, let us go…to your vaults.’” He feels the urge to justify the indirect claim that he is better than Luchresi. Because F was a “man to be respected”, he wanted to further instill admiration from M. Little does he know that as he descends into the vaults, he is also progressing towards his own demise. As the two skulk through the damp catacombs and reach the end of the corridor, Montressor tempts, “‘Proceed…herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchresi—’ ‘He is an ignoramus’”. At the mention of Luchresi’s name, F’s hubris sparks up again, taking his mind off the absurdity of the situation, just as Montressor has carefully planned. F steps in and is chained onto the wall by Montressor, and, all the while, F is “yet [to be] recovered from his astonishment”. The “noble” F, knowing full well of being a man to be feared, doubts the seriousness of the situation and says, “he! he! he!—a very god joke, indeed—an excellent jest’”. F is still blinded by his own self-worth because he knows that screaming and crying would make him seem like a fool. His hubris still blinds F, even as he stands in his own deathbed.
Sample: thesis development This writer does a good job of establishing a clear and concise argument that is supported line after line. Text incorporation is mostly smooth, and commentary appropriately develops the argument.
F’s excessive pride as a “connoisseur” in wine is the fatal trait that leads him to self-destruction. A “respected” and “feared” man, he seems to be a character devoid of faults, if not for his pride that M addresses as a “weak point”. Recognizing this weakness as the key to his revenge, M uses clever word play to lure F, saying “I am on my way to Luchresi, if anyone has a critical turn it is he.” It is with scorn that F responds: “Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from sherry,” a statement obviously stemming from his self- confidence and hubris, and which also ironically outlines him as a fool. His attire shows him to be one as well, dress in a “tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head surmounted by the conical cap and bells.” F’s pride continuously overshadows his better judgment and makes him blind to his approaching death, for the man fails to take notice of the hints that so obviously advertise his doom. “Let us go on,” he says, eager to display his abilities as a connoisseur and ignoring his own failing health and the suspicious nature of his surroundings. It is only at the doorstep to his destruction that he takes notice of this danger and shouts, “The Amontillado!,” in realization that it was actually signifying a tomb, not the wine he had marched on for. Amontillado is ironically shaped into the bait for F’s destruction by M’s deceitful plot, which uses F’s hubris to ultimately bring about his self-destruction.