Professor Susan Mills
27 April 2014
We can learn an important lesson from the short story “The Cask of Amontillado”; particularly, fortification of the phrase “Revenge is best served cold”. This saying was used by the Mafiosi in Italy, and portrays that the best payback is the one that comes with planning. Montresor, who wants his revenge from Fortunato, has two conditions he will follow. “He must not only punish, he must punish with impunity”; and “a wrong is equally underdressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong” (Jacoby 1). The literary device, irony, is utilized throughout the story; which further enhances the ideology that revenge is most satisfying when it is unexpected.
The irony is evident in the first line of the short story and continues to reveal itself and its purpose until the bitter end. The “thousand injuries” that Fortunato inflicted on Montresor didn’t bother him at all, but the fact that he insulted his name or reputation took him over the edge. Rather, this is contrary to the childhood phrase we all have heard “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” (Wood 1). In addition, the names are specifically chosen by Edgar Allan Poe to further proliferate the use of irony. We know this because the protagonist name, Montresor, literally means “my treasure” in French; Mon being my and tresor being treasure. Montresor takes great pride in his name and treasures it through extreme measures. The antangonist, Fortunato, means “lucky” in Italian. However, we are all aware that Fortunato’s luck is about to expire when he is killed by the insulted Montresor. Montresor portrays the use of reverse psychology through the literary device of irony to lure his target, Fortunato, into his expectation of how revenge should be carried out. He knows and pinpoints Fortunato’s weakness and uses it against him. Fortunato’s weak point is his pride and arrogance of his wine tasting ability. Montresor approaches Fortunato during carnival season, while he is drunk, as he is fully aware and confident that his tactic will work. Furthermore, Fortunato is dressed as a jester with a part-striped dress, and a cap with jingling bells. This use of literary clothing further portrays and enforces the idea that Fortunato is a fool. Poe emphasizes and demonstrates how Fortunato’s character is truer than he thinks. As he trusts Montresor with tasting the amotillado without any suspicion, or thinking twice about his motive. During the carnival, Montresor claims he doesn’t know about wines, and states that he was seeking Luchesi’s opinion about the recent wine he has just purchased. In reality, he exposes the truth, and admits he “was skillful in the Italian vintages himself, and bought largely whenever he could” (Poe 1). He knows Fortunato’s pride will lure him into wanting