Symbolism in "The Cask of Amontillado"

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The Serpent and the Clown
The story “The Cask of Amontillado” written by Edgar Allen Poe we meet the vengeful Montresor who plots to murder his dear friend Fortunato. By telling Fortunato that he has received a cask of amontillado, Montresor lures Fortunato deep into his family catacombs where he burns and buries Fortunato alive. Not only is this story a classic tale of murder, but Poe has also included many symbols throughout the story to encourage the imagination of the reader.

Montresor approaches Fortunato in the “supreme madness” (Poe 237) of the carnival. The carnival may actually be a symbol of Montresor’s own madness and the crazy thoughts in his head. Even though Montresor claims that Fortunato inflicted a “thousand injuries” on him, we never really find out what these injuries were. Maybe Fortunato didn’t even mean to insult Montresor, maybe Montresor just takes Fortunato’s sloppy ignorance for insults. Or maybe Fortunato has in fact been inflicting injury on Montresor since days of childhood, and the carnival symbolizes that Montresor has literally gone mad. The name Fortunato itself is a symbol. In Italian, Fortunato means “The Fortunate One”. Indeed, Montresor admits that Fortunato is fortunate. He tells him “You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as I once was” (Poe 238). But it appears that Fortunato ends up being not so fortunate because of his fate. However, if you look a little deeper you might notice that there may be a few other ways to look at his name. “Fortunato believes himself to be the "fortunate one" in that he has been selected by Montresor to taste of the rare Spanish sherry” (Kirkham 144). Fortunato may also be considered fortunate by his murderer because he is “to be laid to rest among the bones of Montresor's ancestors whose arms he had forgotten and whose descendent he had insulted” (Kirkham 144). More interestingly, Fortunato could be considered as being fortunate because “unlike his murderer, has rested...
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