Irony in "The Cask of Amontillado"

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Irony, Comedy Pages: 2 (521 words) Published: February 27, 2014
H. P. Lovecraft once said, “From even the greatest of horrors, irony is seldom absent.” In fact, irony is used very often in horror stories. One story that this is particularly overt in is Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, Poe utilizes irony to create dark humor by writing Montressor’s intentions to kill Fortunado at the beginning of the story, and then making light of the whole situation.

The first case of irony is that Fortunado was dressed as a fool. This is ironic firstly because he claims to have a penchant for wines, and also because he is being taken for a fool. It is said, “He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells” (Poe, 3-4). The bells on his hat are significant because they continue to jingle throughout the story, providing irony and dark humor each time they are mentioned. Also, as James Cooney put it, “the high spirits of the season provided an appropriately ironic background for Montressor’s playful antics with his victim” (Some Further Ironies, 196). It is not just the bells that provide irony; the mere fact that the story takes place in carnival season is twisted. The more distraught Fortunado becomes, the bells seem more twisted and dark.

Another example of irony is that Montressor continuously expresses concern for Fortunado’s health. Fortunado is so avid about seeing the Amontillado, however, that he brushes the concerns off with, “I shall not die of a cough” (6). This is ironic because the readers and Montressor know this is true, since Montressor plans in killing Fortunado before his cough has the chance. “By using such examples of dramatic irony, in which the reader knows more about something than a character in the story does, Poe takes a simple story of murderous revenge and makes it into something more menacing and intricate” (). Because the reader has prior knowledge of Montressor’s plan, the irony is not lost on them. This allows...

Cited: Cooney, James F. "The Cask of Amontillado: Some Further Ironies." Studies in Short Fiction 11.2 (Spring 1974): 195-196. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna Sheets-Nesbitt. Vol. 35. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.
The Creative Company. "The Cask of Amontillado- Insight Story Analysis." 23. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2014
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