The Cask of Amontillado is a short story that was written by an author known as Edgar Allan Poe. Mr. Poe was a renowned writer, editor and a very good poet. He was among the earliest writers of the short stories in America. His writings were majorly based on horror, crime and detective works. Being a poet, Poe usually used literature elements a lot in his writings and these included majorly Irony and persuasion. In his book The Cask of Amontillado, he dominantly used irony in his writing in order to bring out the lesson about greed and revenge.
Sweet (331) observes that in his book “The Cask of Amontillado”, Allan Poe introduces us to Montresor, a character who is out for revenge. Montresor seems to have no other interest other than exacting revenge. He seeks to do this with impunity. He never gives a clear reason as to why Fortunato should be punished. He only states that Fortunato has caused him “a thousand injuries” Because of his rage and desire for revenge, Montresor has got pland of burying his foe alive. He goes on to launch his plans and while doing this, he smiles at his victim all the time. He does this because he thinks and believes that the sacrifice of Fortunato will bring him an amazing reward. Fortunato’s burial represses the wicked nature of Montresor. The reward Montresor gets from this is salvation. In his story, Allan Poe’s theme is of a man who is looking for salvation, and he thinks he will find it in repression. Allan Poe uses irony to develop this theme.
Poe’s choice of character name tells a lot in the story. Fortunato and Montresor are two opposite aspects of a single personality. Fortunato is a name that has been coined to a pun from the word fortune. Thus, his side of Montresor is a sylmol for fortune. Ironically, Montresor’s drive to repress him springs up out of his disagreement with ‘fortune’ itself. The love of money is the root of all evils (1 Timothy6:9-10). Thus, Montresor’s desire for fortune leads him into destruction. Thus, in order to save his soul from damnation, MOntressor feels the need to repress Fortunato. Ironically, Fortunato’s name bears the translation of the lucky one, but his fate is not so lucky.
The dress worn by Forturnato also brings out the element of irony in the story. His dress is symbolic to one of a sacrificial victim. It ironically gives the idea that what Montressor is seeking is salvation. For a man with a stature as that of him, he should not be putting on that kind of dress. Fortunato is a respected man in the society and is also very rich. His dressing is ironic to this fact. He wears a tight fitting dress and has a cap that is meant to be for the carnival season (Poe 4). For a man of his status, you would expect his cap to represent that of Christ instead it represents Satan; it represents the “prince of fools” (Pittman, 328). Montressor on the other hand dresses like a priest, he puts on a black robe similar to the one worn by priests during a funeral mass. Ironically, despite him symbolically looking like a priest, Montressor buries his collegue alive. He does this without giving him a chance for confession (Cooney, 325). By serving as the priest to oversee Fortunato’s burial, this suggests that his repression for him seems to have a holy sanction.
The carnival setting also brings out the element of irony in this short story. This setting gives the impression of a time for sins of the flesh (Pittmann, 325). This carnivore gives Montressor the opportunity to get hold of Fortunato. He manages to bait the drunken Fortunato into his own death trap. The wall symbolizes the completion of Fortunato’s sacrifice. Ironically, this wall is what forms his burial crypt. Montressor is careful to conceal his evil because he wants to eventually gain salvation.
However, salvation usually occurs when sins are forgiven. When Fortunato discovers thathe is going to be buried, he cries out to Montresor “For the love of God Montressor!” and Montressor gladly confirms “Yes, for the Love of God (Poe, 83).” Despite this, Fortunato does not repent. Fortunato is not so lucky as Montressor thinks of him as a sacrifice that he uses to show his love for God.
In this short story, the cask is used as a symbol for confessional. Fifty tears on from the time it happened, Montresor tells this story. He tells it in a very confessional tone. When he says, “You, who so well know the nature of my soul.” he implies that a priest is listening to his confession (Poe, 1). This is however ironical in that he believes what he did when he buried his colleague is good. He does not show any kind of remorse as he confesses to killing Fortunato. This is ironical in the sense that, you would expect somebody confessing to this kind of crime to be at least remorseful and have some amount of guilt in them. Montresor does not have any. In ending his confession, he gives the statement “In pace requiescat” (Poe 89). In his prayer, Montresor is clear of the fact that his wish is relief from the guilt he feels and not to be forgiven for the crime he commited (Sweet Jr, 331). For a confession to get absolution, the individual confessing needs to show remorse. Because of this, Montresor is not granted salvation through repression.
The Amontillado is a symbol for the communion. It symbolizes the blood of Christ. Montressor seeks salvation and he can only get this through the blood of Christ. Despite knowing this, he still lures Fortunato to taste the Amontillado. Ironically, the pursuit of this Amontillado is what leads him to his burial. In addition to this, the choice of wine by Allan Poe in his story represents an even deeper irony. Even the wine that is seeded by Fortunato is killed intentionally and is made even darker. He seeks to drink the wine for pride. Montressor on the other hand seeks something different. He seeks the sacrament of communion and salvation.
The examples mentioned above from the story clearly show how irony has been widely used in the book. Irony has been used to bring put the main theme in the short story. Therefore the thesis In “The Cask of Amontillado” Allan Poe .E uses irony to develop his theme is proved to be correct. Allan Poe uses this ironis symbols in his story to develop his theme in the book. Fortunato’s character is similar to that of an individual who hasva dark side and is easily tempted into sins. Montressor has a character similar to that of a man who is looking for salvation but offers some of himself in vain too.
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