“The Cask of Amontillado” is an interesting character sketch though it is best analyzed in terms of mood and setting. In some ways the characters are a bit flat but in many ways they explore multiple literary dimensions. Any analysis of Fortunato must begin with a look at his name before exploring his physical and mental characteristics and behavior. Fortunato means fortunate. It is the past particle, used, just as in English, as an adjective. However, it can hardly be argued that he is a very fortunate person, at least in the end. The irony here is doubtlessly not lost on the majority of readers and is just as doubtlessly intentional by Poe.
A second look, however, can lead to the insight that in Montresor’s view Fortunato may indeed be more fortunate. Although Montresor outright deny’s jealousy as a motive, the possibility remains that Fortunato’s fortune is a reason behind Montresor’s ghastly behavior either because of envy or because Fortunato came into his fortune at Montresor’s expense. These are, of course, questions that Poe intended for the reader to ask in order to masterfully build the suspense that is so necessary to the success of the story.
Physically, we learn that Fortunato is not a healthy individual. He suffers from a cough. The carnival season comes along in the spring so it might be assumed that he has a cold as a holdover from winter, but more likely Montresor is aware of a chronic problem, otherwise he would have found it difficult to time his preparations to coincide with chance ailment.
Mentally, Fortunato is much more complex. Clearly he is confident in himself. Certainly he must be aware of the “thousands of injuries” that he has inflicted on Montresor, otherwise why would Montresor be so careful to give no reason that Fortunato should “doubt my good will.” Fortunato understands that he is dealing with an enemy but boldly accepts the invitation, as if brought by a subordinate. Confidence such as this must come from success and the logical implication is that to some degree his success has come from his past dealings with Montresor.
In addition to his confidence, Fortunato also displays a degree of intelligence. He states, “Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.” While certainly this remark is…