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Cask of Amontillado character analysis paper

“Cask of Amontillado”: Character Analysis Paper
Write a five paragraph character analysis paper. Choose which character you want to analyze: Montresor or
Fortunato. Once you have chosen a character, decide what three characteristics you want to focus on. Then
write a paper. Each paragraph should focus on each of the three characteristics. Each body paragraph
should have a topic sentence with a topic and a limiting idea. The rest of the paragraph should support the
topic sentence using quotes from the story and analysis of the quotes. Avoid summary of the story at all
costs in the body paragraphs.
MLA Format: Paper must be typed and have proper formatting, which includes double-spaced,
Times New Roman, 12 size type, proper heading, 1 inch margins, and no extra line spacing. Be sure to avoid
all use of the first person and second person pronouns (I, me, my, you, your, etc.) The only exception to
this rule is that you may use first and second person in the attention-getter. You should have a title that tells the
reader what your paper is going to be about. Your paper is not about “Cask of Amontillado.” It is about a
character. When writing about literature you should try to keep the paper in present tense.
Paragraph 1 (Introduction):
When writing an introduction, follow ANT.
Attention getter – get the reader’s attention.
• rhetorical question
• relevant quote from an outside source
• relevant quote from the story
• fact or statistic
• description of initial response to the work
• shocking or amusing generalization.
Whichever method you decide to use, make sure the attention-getter is relevant to the topic of your paper.
The attention-getter should relate to the topic of your paper.
Necessary information:
• author’s full name – Edgar Allan Poe
• Title of story – “Cask of Amontillado”
• Brief plot summary – in two to five sentences briefly remind your readers what happened in
the story. Highlight the major action of the story, especially those parts that are relevant to
your analysis. Make sure to include the two character’s names. If your focus is Montresor,
then the summary should concentrate on Montresor. He should be the subject of most of your
Your thesis should consist of a topic and limiting ideas. It should never be a question. It should be the last
sentence of the introduction paragraph. The thesis should make it clear what characteristics you are
concentrating on and what these characteristics add to the story.
Fortunato makes himself an easy target because of _____________, __________________, and _________.
Montresor accomplishes __________________ because he is _______________, ______________, and
Paragraph 2 – body
Body paragraphs should follow TIQA:
• Topic sentence: a topic sentence has a topic and a limiting idea, or a focus. Your topic is the
character you have chosen. And your limiting idea is a character trait.
• Introduce quote: Before you supply the quote that supports your topic sentence, you need to
introduce it. What this means is that you give some context to the quote. If someone is speaking the
quote, you should tell your reader who is talking.
o Example: When Montresor walks Fortunato through his Palazzo, he tells the reader, “ . . . ”
• Quote: Provide a quote that supports the topic sentence.
• Analysis: After the quote, spend about 2 to 3 sentences discussing how this quote proves that the
character has this trait.
• Transition: Use a sentence or half a sentence to transition into a second quote for support.
o Example: Another time the reader sees Montresor’s intelligence is when he . . .
• Introduce quote.
• Quote
• Analysis
Paragraphs 3 & 4:
Body paragraphs should follow TIQA (See above).
• Reword your thesis. (You may want to start the rewording of your thesis with a signal word: e.g.,
thus, therefore, in short, as one can see, it is obvious then, and then.)
• Tie all your points together. Then in 1 – 3 sentences, tell your reader the significance or importance
of the ideas you have been analyzing. You might want to tell your reader what they should learn
from the ideas you analyzed in the body paragraphs. (Warning: do not use you.)
• Clincher: try to end your paper with a short sentence that reinforces your argument. This last
sentence should do one of two things. It should either include some words from your attention-getter
or it should include most words from your title. This gives a sense of closure to your paper
Character Analysis: Traits*
Methods/techniques of characterization. Places to look for analysis. Before writing a character analysis paper,
you need to list the characteristics that you will analyze.
A possible place to look for analysis is in the names of the characters.
List the direct characterization of a character's appearance. Before writing a character analysis paper, list the
qualities of appearance that the author has given you. Then try to analyze how the appearance develops the
We know a lot about a person by the way he or she behaves. If the person cries a lot, we assume something
about his or her character. If a man is always breaking up with his girlfriends, there is something we can
assume about him.
To begin, list actions of each character. Then analyze how these actions define the characteristics of each
As with action, we know a lot about a person by what he or she says. Also, we know a lot about a person by
how the person says something. Is the character extremely ironic?
To begin, list some dialogue that shows some characteristics of the character.
Look for thoughts and feelings of a character that demonstrates to you some characteristics of the character.
If a character always feels guilty, what does this say about the person? Does he have a low self-esteem? Is he
extremely religious?
List thoughts and feelings of each character. Then analyze how these thoughts and feelings define the
characteristics of each character.
As choices are made, they reveal the character's value and self-concept.
If a character decides to help volunteer at the shelter, what does this say about her? If she decides to cheat on
her husband, what does this say about?
List the choices of each character. Then analyze what these choices say about the character. How do they add
to the indirect characterization?
We are often told that we are the products of our early environment and our past experiences. If a character
comes from an abusive family, does this make sense out of how he is today?
Examine family history, nationality, education, significant life experiences. Remember that when writing a
character analysis paper you are thinking like a psychiatrist or a detective. You are trying to figure out what
makes the character tick.
We can learn a lot about a character when another character or the narrator says something about him or her.
*A lot of the above comes from chapter 4 in Writing about Literature: Step by Step by Pat McKeague.
Analysis Paper:
After you have figured out what traits you are going to use as your focus, or limiting ideas, it is time to
write the paper.
Step 1: write your thesis.
Step 2: write your topic sentences.
Step 3: Write your body paragraphs using TIQA
Step 4: Write introduction.
Step 5: Write conclusion.
Your introduction paragraph is the first paragraph for your essay. It is best to start with something general.
You want to grab your reader's attention. Then you want to inform your reader about what you writing. You
want to finish the introduction paragraph with the argument for the paper--the thesis.
Follow ANT:
Attention-Getter: First sentence or two should be an attention-getter. There are multiple ways to make up an
Necessary information: Necessary information includes:
1. Author's full name
2. Title of the story
3. Brief plot summary
Thesis: The last sentence of your introduction should be your thesis.
Attention-getter: different ways to write an attention-getter:
1. rhetorical question (students often misuse this)
relevant quote from an outside source
relevant quote from the story
fact or statistic
description of initial response to the work
shocking or amusing generalization.
Your thesis should consist of a topic and limiting ideas. It should never be a question. The thesis is the answer
to a question that seems important to you.
For example, what characteristic traits make it possible for Montresor to be successful with his revenge?
Thesis -- Montresor is successful in getting his revenge because of his vengeful nature, his ability to use reverse
psychology and manipulation to get people to do what he wants, and his intelligent choices.
The thesis is a road map for your readers to follow your argument. It should do the organizing for you.
**Example from a student's paper on "The Cask of Amontillado."
Murder! Is this a right way to get back at someone? (attention getter) Montresor believes it is in Edgar Allan
Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.” In the story, Montresor tells the reader that he was insulted by Fortunato. It
is because of this insult that Montresor has vowed revenge. He finds Fortunato on the streets during carnival
and lures him into his family’s catacombs under the pretense of having Fortunato test wine. Once they are in
the catacombs, Montresor chains Fortunato to a wall of granite and buries him alive. (necessary info. –
author’s full name, title of work, and brief plot summary) He was able to achieve this murder because of
his ability to manipulate and his intelligence. (thesis)
Body Paragraphs:
Topic Sentence:
Since a paragraph is a group of sentences that share a single idea, the topic sentence must have two parts:
1. Fortunato is easily tricked into his own murder because of a blinding sense of pride.
Topic = Fortunato
Limiting Idea = blind sense of pride (and how this makes him vulnerable).
2. Because John treats his wife like a child, he drives her insane rather than curing her.
Topic = John
Limiting Idea = he treats his wife like a child
Your body paragraphs should provide a topic sentence. The rest of the paragraph should provide context for a
quote or a paraphrase example. Then you should provide that example. After you provide that example, you
should explain how it supports your thesis statement. DO NOT merely tell your reader what the quote means;
this can lead to summary. You need to analyze.
Follow TIQA:
Topic sentence
Introduce quote: put the quote into context.
Quote: provide your quote
Analyze: explain to the reader the importance of the quote and how it supports your topic sentence.
Transition sentence: transition from the first example to your second example.
Introduce quote: introduce your second piece of evidence.
Quote: provide your second quote.
Analyze: analyze your second quotes, and if possible, tie the two pieces of evidence together to make a
larger argument.
Topic Sentence: In her school without walls, Miss Moore provides a hands-on
education that forces the students to discover new knowledge.
Introduce Quote: After sitting around for a while in the impoverished neighborhood, Miss
Moore tells her students to get into a cab, which delivers them to the
classroom for the day: FAO Schwarz. While in the cab, Miss Moore
"hands [Sylvia] a five dollar bill and tells [her] to calculate 10 percent tip
for the driver" (2).
Miss Moore uses the cab ride as a teachable moment. This is a sign of a
great teacher. Miss Moore does more for Sylvia in those few moments
than probably most of Sylvia's math teachers at school. Typically American
education assumes that knowledge can be jammed into a student's mind.
Miss Moore provides a practical basis for the knowledge and allows the
student to come to it on her own.
Using teachable moments and hands-on education works for Miss Moore more
effectively when she applies these teaching strategies to greater life lessons, such
as the lesson on dispelling the American dream.
Your conclusion should not merely be a summary. Rather, it should restate and reemphasize your thesis. It
should show the importance of the analysis that you have been making in the paper. You should also try to
provide a clincher, which might come back to your attention-getter.