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The Cask of Amontillado - Irony and Symbolism

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The Cask of Amontillado - Irony and Symbolism

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  • October 8, 1999
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It is Edgar Allan Poe's intense use of symbolism and irony throughout the Cask of Amontillado that establishes the short story as an indeed interesting candidate worthy of thorough analysis. The skillful use of these devices are utilized by the author to create this horrific and suspenseful masterpiece.

The Cask of Amontillado is a horror short story, which revolves around the themes of revenge and pride. The plot involves two men: Montresor, the narrator, who is an Italian aristocrat seeking revenge against the second main character: Fortunato, a proud man that boasts about his conoisseurship of wines and who finally walks to his own death.

Irony is a manner of expression through which words or events convey a reality different from and even opposite to appearance or expectation. The use of such device in the story provides it with humour and wit, and makes the piece more sophisticated. The sustained irony is detected through style, tone and the clear use of exaggeration of Montresor, the narrator.

From the very beginning we notice the apparition of irony in the story. The very name Fortunato would clearly imply that this is a man of good fortune, when the actual case is that he is about to suffer a mostly untimely demise: the end of his life. The setting in which the story takes place again shows an ironic element. It is during Venice's Carnival that the characters meet. Carnival is supposed to be a time of celebration and happiness for everybody. However, in the tale it is a time for revenge and death. The atmosphere changes drastically when the two protagonists leave the gaiety of carnival for the gloomy and desolate catacombs beneath Montresor's palazzo. We learn from the narrator that when he first meets Fortunato the latter has apparently been drinking and is dressed in many colours, resembling a jester. His costume suggests that he will be the one playing the fool. On the other hand Montresor is dressed in a black-coloured...