Irony of The Cask of Amontillado
Many of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories contain a wide variety of irony, motifs, and symbolism. The unity of these elements within many of his tales creates specific moods in and throughout his works. One story in particular, The Cask of Amontillado not only displays Poe’s exquisite attention to detail and mastery of literary unity, but it clearly portrays his expertise in the use of irony within this story. The most evident use of irony is through the character’s name Fortunato. The name plainly means fortunate however, the very unfortunate fate of this character is obviously found out as the story unfolds.
Poe uses several types of irony in The Cask of Amontillado. The irony of the situation in general is clearly stated in the first sentence, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” Basically the narrator states that the physical injuries he endured from Fortunato did not really bother him however, when Fortunato ventured upon verbal insult, the narrator then wanted revenge. Most human beings are more apt to act on physical pain versus emotional insult, but in this story that apparently is not the case. The narrator then goes on to say, “You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat.” With this statement the narrator is attempting to display the goodness of his nature by stating that people who truly know him know that the following tale is out of character for him. Then a few sentences down, the narrator chooses to follow that bold statement with “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.” This quote states the importance of revenge upon Fortunato for the narrator. The narrator carefully plans his revenge to where he cannot be punished for the...
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