Cask of Amontillado

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Foreshadowing the Fate in “The Cask of Amontillado”
In “Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe presents a murderous tale of revenge revealed as the confession of a man who murdered another man over fifty years ago because of an “insult.” During a carnival festival, the murderer led his companion to the catacombs where he buried the man alive. The charter of Montresor lures his victim, Fortunato with the promise of a fine sherry, amontillado. As Poe’s character of Montresor guides the wine connoisseur, Fortunato, Poe symbolically foreshadows the impending murder.

Before even reading the story Poe foreshadows Fortunato’s fate with the title of the story. In the title of Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” the “cask” is short for casket. Casket is the final resting place for many after they die, therefore representing death. The Amontillado is the means in which death is achieved even though not directly but by the luring toward it. The title in its translation means the death of someone because of their attraction toward Amontillado. Elena Baraban, author of “The Motive for Murder in “the Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe”, believes that “the whole imagery of the crypt suggests that the word “Amontillado” is a metaphor” (55) symbolizing the way that Fortunato was killed. With that the title of the story could be foreshadowing the end of Fortunato for the word cask means casket and if amontillado is a metaphor for Fortunato then the title would read “The Casket of Fortunato”.

Poe places much emphasis on Carnival in his story symbolically foreshadowing the fate of Fortunato at every turn. Montresor waited for the Carnival season because it would be the perfect time to strike “during the supreme madness of the carnival season,” (Poe 674). Carnival is known as the time when reality is inverted. The peasants dress up as the hierarchy and can be elected to carnival king or pope. Religion is the main focus point of the land and to obey the laws it sets forth is the highest calling anyone can hope to achieve. During Carnival that too is inverted making religion ignored. Many unreligious acts happen at Carnival in the traditional merrymaking including the law that prevents the killing of another person. This would give Montresor the ability to kill Fortunato without the guilt of betraying his faith. Montresor was, up until Carnival, the oppressed victim of Fortunato. During Carnival, however, that prospect is inverted making Montresor the oppressor of Fortunato. Fortunato’s name means he is fortunate “someone who becomes rich and prominent by chance (Fortune), rather than through personal virtue” (Baraban 52). During Carnival, however, Fortunato loses his luck and becomes unfortunate. Poe further foreshadows Fortunato’s fate by describing the costumes that they wore to Carnival. Costumes are a tradition to Carnival’s inversion on reality. The participants would dress up as someone opposite of what they are. In Fortunato’s case he was dressed with tightly fitted striped dress with a conical cap with bells attached which resembles the outfit of a jester or fool. Fortunato’s costume as a fool is symbolic because he would later be a fool to follow his enemy Montresor to his own demise. Montresor also had a costume that foreshadowed the fate of his victim. Montresor wore a mask made of black silk and a “roquelaire”, or short cloak, witch resembles the outfit of an executioner. The costume of Montresor states that he is not going to tolerate the fool’s insults anymore and kill him. “Having chosen the role of a fool, Fortunato becomes socially inferior to Montresor who is wearing … a costume that makes him resemble an executioner,” (Baraban 54). This continues to show the inversion of what is reality for Montresor is now socially superior to Fortunato.

Carnival also foreshadows the end of Fortunato because everyone was there making noise in their merriment. Carnival is a big celebration for the people of...
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