27 August 2013
Irony, “Is the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning” (Merriam-Webster). Edgar Allan Poe used a great amount of irony in his short story, “The Cask of Amontillado” to express a theme of revenge. Throughout the story, Poe gives us a great amount of clues and descriptions on how he is using irony in the story. This in turn, helps the reader understand the character and expressed the theme of the story. Edgar Allan Poe effectively used the setting and symbolism to show the irony of the story. Furthermore, Poe used foreshadowing to give the reader hints of what is to come. A biographical critical approach is a way for a reader to have a better understanding and to associate to the “The Cask of Amontillado”.
To start out with, Fortunato’s name and the way he is dressed in the story is very ironic. Poe explained Fortunato as a person dressed in a jester costume. Automatically with think of a fool and someone who is a joker. Not only that, but Poe names him Fortunato. A character that ends up with the greatest misfortune over all. Death.
Next, the title is a play on words. A play on words is a way to use words and to prove or identify the subject. Cask, meaning casket, and an amontillado, which is a room where wine barrels are stored. Associating these words, will give the reader a hint on what the outcome of the story would be. Especially knowing that Fortunato’s name and dress symbolism.
Thirdly, the setting of the story sets the overall mood of the story. “The Cask of Amontillado” is taken place in a carnival where great amounts of wine are present. Readers would identify the overall feeling of a carnival as happy and joyful. Then the story moves from the carnival to a cellar, where the overall feeling is very morbid. Montressor convinces Fortunato to come down to the cellar where the wine is stored. Earlier, Montressor ensured that Fortunato was drunk.
Additionally, while Montressor and Fortunato are in the basement, Fortunato ask is Montressor is a mason. When Fortunato makes a secret sign with his hand, Montressor does not recognize it, but still simply claim he is a mason by showing Fortunato his trowel. Poe writes:
You are not of the brotherhood. Yes, yes, I said; yes, yes. You? Impossible! A mason? A mason, I replied. A sign, he said. It is this I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my roquelaire. (229)
Being the fool that Fortunato is, falls for it. Fortunato asks him this due to the brick walls built in the catacombs. Montressor then tricks Fortunato to go into a room with some of the bricks missing. Montressor expresses that the amontillado is being stored in there. Once Fortunato is in the cask, Montressor swiftly chains Fortunato to a stone. Ironically, Montressor begins to seal the wall with bricks and cement. The last thing that the reader hears of Fortunato is the jiggling of his bells.
Poe uses a great amount of foreshadowing, in this story. Foreshadowing is an idicaion of a future event. To begin with, the motto on Montresor’s coast of arms additionally foreshadows the events coming up. “Nemo me impune lacessit”, which is Latin for no one attacks me without paying dearly. This is greatly significant due to Fortunato will be paying his life for insulting Montressor.
Additionally, Edgar Allan Poe inscribes:
Enough, he said; the cough is mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough. True-true, I replied; and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily-but you should use all proper caution. (228)
This quote has foreshadowing and irony in it. To clarify, the irony of Fortunato saying that he will not die of a cough and Montressor agreeing begins to build suspense of how Fortunato will die. With