A Fortunate Revenge
In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe creates a macabre mood by juxtaposing the light-hearted festival to the somber catacombs combined with irony. In doing so, he suggests that when people succumb to hatred and thoughts of revenge, their anger often drives them to madness.
Poe describes the dismal setting of the catacombs as dark and cold compared to the warmth of the carnival season. By establishing complete opposite environments, Poe creates an uneasy atmosphere. As Fortunato follows Montresor into the depths of the catacombs, he does not take it upon himself to notice the “walls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons intermingling…” Because Fortunato allows for more wine to enter his system, he becomes more unaware of death surrounding him. While they adventure down deeper into the catacombs, Montresor leads Fortunato into smaller and fouler spaces, passing through “walls [that have] been lined with human remains piled to the vault overhead.” This suggests that as they travel farther away from fresh air, they are also moving away from freedom. The description of the catacombs creates the dreadful and disturbing mood that drives Montresor’s revenge. After restraining Fortunato to his doom, Montresor mentions that “it [is] now midnight, and my task [is] drawing to a close,” signaling that it is time for death. Although above them hosts a party that fills the people with joy, Montresor drags Fortunato into the depths of his catacombs to kill him without a single soul knowing, succeeding in his plans for revenge on Fortunato.
Throughout the story, Poe’s irony builds suspense, while also creating a macabre mood. The irony in the dialogue along with the descriptions of the catacombs reveal Montresor’s well thought out plan for revenge on Fortunato. First, Fortunato’s name suggests good fortune, but Fortunato is anything but fortunate, for he is going to his death as he follows Montresor down into the catacombs. Noticing the...
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