Irony and Symbolism in “the Cask of Amontillado”
In the short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe writes in first person point of view, from the perspective of Montresor, the narrator of this tale, who seeks revenge against Fortunato. Montresor began to develop the perfect plan for revenge. During the carnival season, Montresor meet with Fortunato and decides to implement his plan carefully not to arouse Fortunato’s suspicions through irony. Poe’s story describes the inner workings of a murderer’s mind, who has lived the memory of Fortunato’s death for fifty years.
Poe uses different types of irony and symbolism in the conversations between Montresor and Fortunato which are discussed in the following paragraphs. First, Poe uses dramatic irony in the story. For example, Montresor expresses concern about Fortunato’s and says, “Come, I said, with decision, we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible” (Poe).
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Both the reader and Montresor know of his plan of murder that awaits Fortunato when he descends into the catacombs in search for the wine. But, Fortunato does not suspect that Montresor is capable of such an act. Montresor pretends to be concerned about Fortunato’s health, when he says they should go back. Ironically, Montresor could care less about Fortunato’s health; he is concerned about his own advantage of manipulation by luring him into the catacombs to carry out his plan. Montresor wants to be responsible for Fortunato’s death. Montresor does not want Fortunato to die of a cough or from the niter in the catacombs, but of his own plan.
The drunken Fortunato is the only one in the story who is unaware of Montresor’s real motives; which demonstrates situational irony. Another example is when the two men are having a conversation about returning to the carnival. Fortunato insists going to the catacombs with Montresor. Fortunato states, “Enough, he said; the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough” (Poe). Then Montresor says, “True–true, I replied; and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily–but you should use all proper caution” (Poe). Poe uses this irony: the reader knows of the narrator’s intentions but Fortunato does not.
Fortunato does not know how true his words are. Fortunato is not going to die of a cough, but due to Montresor’s motive. Secondly, Poe uses numerous examples of verbal irony. For example, when Montresor toasts to Fortunato’s long life. Montresor says, “Drink…” (Poe). Then Fortunato says, “I drink, …to the buried that repose around us. ” Then again, Montresor states, ‘”And I to your long life”‘ (Poe). Montresor, however, knows that Fortunato will not live very long. Fortunato believes that Montresor is his friend, when actually he intends to make a fool out of him. Thus, Montresor exclaims, “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met.
How remarkably you are looking today! But I have received a pipe of what passes Amontillado, and I have my doubts” (Poe). Montresor calls Fotunato “dear” when he hates this man. He is dressed as a clown, but Montresor still compliments him on his costume. His attire fits with Montresor’s plans- to make a fool out of him. Moreover, Montresor points out, “My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature” (Poe). In this tale of revenge, Poe illustrates a several different ironic situations between Montresor and Fortunato. Poe also shows many examples of symbolism in this short story.
Symbolism is seen in the names of the characters. “Only three names are mentioned in the work, Fortunato, Luchesi, and Montressor, all three of which are suggestive of treasure” (Womack). Fortunato is Italian for “fortunate” while Luchesi is Italian for “lucrative. ” Another example of symbolism is the sherry, “The most dry sherry produced by the mountains of Spain contrasts with the dank depths of Fortunato’s tomb” (Womack). The “cask” of amontillado that Montressor tells of, draws Fortunato into the “casket” in which he still lies. The cask of amontillado is astory of revenge. ontresor,the villainous narrator of this story vowed to avenge insults he received by administering death to fortunato. montressor proved himself to be the aggressor because of the way he plotted and excuted his plan to eliminate fortnnato. the reasoc behind montresor’s villainous behavior is somewhat understates. montressor is a very unreliable narrator claiming that he suffered,”the thousand injuries of fortunato i had borne as best as i could”,9750. This statement that montresor made is not only exaggeration, but also leads us to wonder if their was another motive behind montresor’s actions.
Upon reading this story i realized that i could not believe montressor descriptive ways of how fortunato criticized and humiliated him. we as the reader do not know what causes this line of insults from fortunato. montressor could have initiated this kind of behaviour that he received; it is only best to be speculative about this because there is not hard evidence that points out without bais the true aggressor. The way montressor executed his brilliant plan was to lure fortunato to his home saying that he wanted him to sample a wine by the name of amontillado.
The reason behind this was that he knew that fortunato was also a connoisseur of wines. We continue to see the devious mind of montressor at work and also how ironic his compassion for fortunato was. ”Come,” i said,with decision, ”we will go back your health is precious. You are rich ,respected ,admired,beloved,you are happy as i once was”(77). In the paragraph above montressor’s compassion for fortunato is a first rate reverse psychology in progress. Montressor anticipated that if he appeared to be fortunato friend who cared about his health, his plan would be flawless.
It is known that montressor wanted to avenge fortunato ,but their is no indication of when this would take place so this leave us to believe that the carnival created the atmosphere for fortunato to be drunk, therefore allowingf Montressor to move forward with his plan to murder fortunato. By the end of Poe’s story, montressor has gotten his revenge against unspecting fortunato ,whose taste for wine led him to his death. Once again we are reminded of the coat of arms and the the montresor family motto. The insignia is symbolic of montressor’s evil character, which like the serpent intends to get revenge.