In “The Cask of the Amontillado” Edgar Allan Poe uses symbolism, imagery, and the atmosphere to help fully explore the sinful nature of pride and its serious consequences within the short story. The character of Fortunato is the main capsule for the explanation of the dangers of being prideful of ones self. By examining Poe’s use of symbolism, images, and effective backdrops around Fortunato the reader may begin to understand the importance of the deadly sin of pride. Poe deliberately explains to the reader early on within the short story, “The Cask of the Amontillado”, that Fortunato takes extreme pride in “himself on his connoisseurship in wine” (153). The theme of having an overwhelming amount of self-pride, one of the seven deadly sins, is projected as a weakness of Fortunato and foreshadows the ideal that this deadly sin of pride may very well lead to the means of Forturnato’s own destruction. Fortunato Believes that his “connoisseurship in wine” (153) is far more developed and advance than anyone else in the area, especially Luchesi and Montresor. For example when Montresor offered to take his business to Luchesi because he, Fortunato, appeared to be pre-engaged in the enjoying himself within “the supreme madness of the carnival” (153); however, Fortunato replied with “ ‘Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry’ ” (154). The reader may argue that Luchesi might have truly been just an amateur in the area of winery, but with the next line Poe wrote, Montresor replied “ ‘That his taste is a match for your own’ ” (154) it is less of an issue. Furthermore the reader can clearly see that Fortunato must have said what he did out of pride in his wonderful abilities. Given the knowledge that the reader understands Fortunato and the simple fact that he is driven by opportunities to boost his egotistical self. Fortunato’s hidden motive to “satisfy” (153) Montresor “doubts” about the cask of Amontillado is to obtain “bragging rights”, the ability to insult Montresor about how he was taken by a merchant that attempted to passed imitation Amontillado off as actual pure Amontillado. Fortunato’s high sense of pride is one character flaw that will eventually leads to the reason for Montresor’s rage for revenge “with impunity” (153). Fortunato’s pride shines brightly throughout him, even down to his clothing. “During the supreme madness of the carnival season” (153). Fortunato was wearing “motley” (153) or multicolor clothing in Poe’s short story displaying himself with pride and energy for the carnival. Fortunato wears brightly multicolor clothing because he is proud of himself, his abilities, and his achievements. Standing out in crowds of people and having them recognize him, as “Fortunato” would only boost his overpowering sense of self-pride. In reading, Fortunato appears to be dress in clothing that a Jester might wear as part of his uniform. With the multicolor “tight-fitting parti-striped dress,” (153) and the “conical cap bells” (153) that sat upon Fortunato’s head, he is clearly dress to play the part of a fool. Through connection of the imagery of Fortunato’s clothing, and in the symbolism of his character being pride, the reader can clearly connection the sinful nature of pride with foolish tendencies. The fall of Fortunato symbolically displays the effects that occur if one chooses to continue to grasp and act on pride for oneself. Fortunato was a man that took pride in his expertise in wine, and in order to boost his ego even farther he when out of his way to “satisfy” (153) the doubt that Montresor had about his newly purchase cask of Amontillado. Playing like a fool with only the concerns of himself, Fortunato, he ultimately falls for Montresor’s trap. Fortunato is then destine to wither away trapped within the damp air of the Montresor family catacombs. Like the fool who takes pride in himself and is greedy in the sense of self improvement, will be the type of man that will either died young among people who already have lost themselves or to grow old alone in isolation from the outside world. In this case Fortunato had died young among strangers whom had already lost themselves to the powerful grip of death for some reason or another. It is the person who holds large amounts of pride for oneself whom either voluntarily or involuntarily plays out the deadly role of the typical fool. By taking care of oneself before caring of others due to the fact that the fool truly believes that his life is far better than that of his fellow acquaintances and considers his abilities to reach far beyond any fellow man that might cross his path. The fool endangers his own life by living in this matter and may very well died in the arms of the enemy who they thought was a friend. The consequences of the typical fool are quite clear, straightforward, and to a certain degree even irreversible. Work Cited
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of the Amontillado.” Literature for Composition, 4th ed. Eds. Sylvan Barnet et al. New Your: HarperCollins, 1995.