24 April 2008
All the reader knows of the character, Fortunato, in the Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Cask of Amontillado, is learned through the unreliable narrator, Montresor. Dramatic, situational and verbal irony develops the character of Fortunato as a naïve, foolish and gullible person. Fortunato has many weaknesses that lead to his eventual death. Although his name gives the impression that Fortunato is a fortunate person, he’s actually very unfortunate and makes himself an easy target for Montresor’s perfect crime.
Fortunato does not realize he is being led into his own death. Dramatic irony is shown as Montresor says, “Neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued…to smile in his face and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation” (127). The reader knows Fortunato is being led to his own death, yet Fortunato remains oblivious. This dramatic irony shows Fortunato as an oblivious, naïve character.
Montresor gives Fortunato several opportunities to turn back from this trip, yet Fortunato is too gullible to comply. “Come…we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy… You are a man to be missed. We will go back,” Montresor says to Fortunato after hearing his cough. Too drunk and eager to get a taste of Amontillado, Fortunato refuses. Dramatic irony develops Fortunato as he says, “Enough…the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me.” Indeed, the cough will not kill Fortunato—Montresor will.
Fortunato’s costume also shapes his character. He’s dressed in a jester’s costume which ends up being his burial outfit. In his dying moment the only sound that can be heard is a jingling of bells from his jester’s cap. Completely humiliated, even in death, Fortunato’s naivety is further developed. He wore the motley costume in hopes of having fun, yet his own gullibility causes him to be the fool in the end.
As Montresor leads Fortunato deeper into the catacombs, Fortunato stops briefly to say, “I drink…to the