The Cask of Amontillado” Essay Topics
Choose one of the essay options below, and write a well-organized, five paragraph essay answering the prompt. Be sure to adhere to the essay format and the essay write rules.
1. The descriptive details used in “The Cask of Amontillado” create a specific mood. Write an essay describing what that mood is, which key details create it, and in which scenes that mood is most strongly expressed.
2. Consider the many details given about Montresor: the way he is dressed, his family name, his coat of arms, and family motto. Explain what significance each of these details has to the story.
3. Montresor places a great deal of importance on “connoisseurship,” or being an expert at something. Explain how he plans his revenge on Fortunato like an expert. Support your argument by giving at least 3 examples of how he plays with Fortunato, his victim, or examples showing how much he enjoys his revenge.
4. Fortunato is dressed like a fool, and Montresor wears a “mask of black silk.” Explain why these costumes are appropriate for the roles they play in the story. Use details from the story to support your opinion.
5. Reread Montresor’s description of Fortunato toward the beginning of the story. According to Montresor, in what ways is Fortunato a “respectable” man? In what ways is he a “quack”? What kind of person do you think he is? Why? Support yourself with details from the story.
From “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
Answer the following questions in complete sentences.
1. Setting: What is significant about the time the narrator has chosen for his plot? What are the practical reasons for choosing this time? What are the symbolic reasons for choosing this time?
2. Discuss (in detail) how Fortunato tests whether or not Montresor is a free mason.
3. Fortunato’s name translates to “one who is fortunate.” Why is this ironic?
From “A&P” by John Updike
Answer the following questions in complete sentences.
1. Updike puts together details that create a normal, ordinary grocery store — the setting is supposed to be realistic. What details stand out to you as true to life? What does paying close attention to the details contribute to the story?
2. Think about the character of Sammy. What traits (good or bad) does Sammy show? In what ways is he a “real” person? Is he less of a hero because he wants the girls to notice him?
3. What part of the story is the exposition? Where in the story can you find the conflict? What is the climax of the story?
4. Why, exactly, does Sammy quit his job?
5. Does anything lead you to think Sammy will quit his job? Is there any foreshadowing (before Sammy quits) that hints at this?
6. What do you understand from the conclusion of the story? What does Sammy mean when he says “how hard the world was going to be . . . hereafter”?
7. Who is the narrator of this story? How might this story be different if another character narrated it? How reliable do you find this narrator? Justify your answer.
8. Why do you think the girls wear their bikinis in the store? What text evidence supports this conclusion?
9. How does the setting contribute to this story? How might this story be different if it happened in a different time and place?
10. The narrator assigns character traits to the girls based on their appearance and body language. Compare the narrator’s description of Queenie and the tall girl. Do you think this is an accurate way to assess other people? Explain your response. How are appearances related to how people perceive each other?
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