The Cask of Amontillado

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This tale by Edgar Allan Poe is not only about revenge but betrayal. The narrator, otherwise known as Montresor, tells the reader the tale of him, 50 years before, getting revenge on an old friend named Fortunato who had done him wrong in some unknown way. Within this short story, Poe uses many examples of black humor and irony. Poe uses Fortunato’s name symbolically, as an ironic device. Though his name means “the fortunate one” in Italian, Fortunato meets an unfortunate fate as the victim of Montresor’s revenge. Fortunato adds to the irony of his name by wearing the costume of a court jester. While Fortunato plays in jest, Montresor sets out to fool him, with murderous results.

In The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor does the reverse, readying himself to commit the crime by equating himself with an animal. In killing Fortunato, he cites his family arms, a serpent with its fangs in the heel of a foot stepping on it, and motto, which is translated “no one harms me with impunity.” Fortunato, whose insult has spurred Montresor to revenge, becomes the man whose foot harms the snake Montresor and is punished with a lethal bite.

A very good example of humor can be found at the very beginning of the story itself: Montresor had "vowed revenge" against Fortunato. But he decided to mask his real feelings by outwardly appearing friendly towards him – "I continued as was my wont, to smile in his face." This grim irony of situation results in harsh 'black humor' with Montresor remarking sarcastically, "It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him, that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand." Also, Montresor, though not trying to be, is a bit funny at...
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