In The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allen Poe displays the theme of revenge. In the story, Montressor narrates the story and feels he has been wronged by Fortunado and vows for vengeance against him. Montressor attempts to justify his future crime to the reader. “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. ” (Poe 101) Fortunado is unaware of the wrong he caused Montressor by insulting him. Montressor feels that this is reason enough for his retribution. The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed for revenge. ” (Poe 101) The thought of revenge is not only the plot to the short story, but also the underlying theme that Poe supports throughout. An internal conflict of pride is a major element to the story. Fortunado thinks of himself on being a connoisseur of fine wine. The thought of Montressor seeking outside help in Luchresi for a wine tasting practically infuriates Fortunado. “Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry. (Poe 101)
This causes Fortunado to be easily manipulated into following Montressor deep into his family vaults underneath his home. Fortunado’s pride even causes him to ignore his own health as moves deeper into the catacombs, “the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall die of a cough. ” (Poe 102) The pride in Fortunado ultimately leads to Montressor fulfilling his plot of revenge to the point of Fortunado walking into his own resting place. “It was in vain that Fortunado, uplifting his dull torch, endeavored to pry into the depth of the recess. (Poe 104) Montressor’s pride is shown when he finally corners Fortunado and locks him up before he lays bricks, blocking him in the recess. “I will first render you all the little attentions in my power. ” (Poe 104) He finally is satisfied with the preceding outcome that he finally reveals his true nature to Fortunado. Poe uses foreshadowing in The Cask of Amontillado. The reader has a full understanding that Montressor is going to kill Fortunado, it is the means of how he will do it; which is unidentified to the reader at the beginning of the story.
As the tale moves along, more clues are given to the outcome of he story. Montressor’s family motto, “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which means “no on provokes me with impunity,” shows Montressor’s diabolical nature. He also describes his family crest. “A huge human foot d’or in a field azure, the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel. ” (Poe 103) He basically shows Fortunado that he is going to be punished for the harm that he supposedly caused him. Fortunado doesn’t suspect any future punishment since Montressor has been acting nice towards him. “It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunado cause to doubt my good will. (Poe 101) Montressor also toasts to Fortunado’s “long life” (Poe 103) which is more deception played out to prove Fortunado’s life was ending soon. The irony in Montressor’s narration is heavy device used to support the story. Irony is a meaning or outcome contrary to what is expected. Montressor constantly shows a concern for Fortunado’s health even though he leading him to his own death. He most definitely doesn’t really care if he’s healthy or not, “we will go back; your health is precious. ” (Poe 102) Even Fortunado’s name is ironic since his impending death is definitely not fortunate.
The outfit which Fortunado was wearing also shows irony in the story. “He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. ” (Poe 101) The clothing which Fortunado was wearing is that of a jester’s outfit. It’s merely a costume that he chooses to wear during “the supreme madness of the carnival season. ” (Poe 101) The costume shows that the joke was essentially played on Fortunado in exacting Montressor’s revenge. “Amontillado! You have been imposed upon. ” (Poe 102) The Amontillado or the wine mentioned in the title and throughout the story is a symbol for Fortunado’s death. The Amontillado! ” (Poe 104) The Amontillado never existed and was the means by which Montressor lured Fortunado to his less fortunate demise. The “Cask” mentioned in the title is a euphemism for the final resting place or coffin for Fortunado. Montressor even jokes with Fortunado about being a member of the freemasons by “producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel. ” (Poe 103) Montressor is using the word mason to describe a craftsman who uses brick and mortar and is a precursor to the methods by which he would kill Fortunado. Ultimately, irony is a useful tool used by
Poe to help convey Montressor’s intentions of revenge. Edgar Allan Poe uses literary devices to describe and support the underlying theme of revenge. Poe uses foreshadowing in the story since you pretty much know what’s going to happen to Fortunado in the form of his heinous death by the end of the story. Throughout there is a steady change of scenery from a lively carnival to a dark underground chasm. Fortunado’s pride plays into his downfall tremendously. He showed no concern for his health at the thought of somebody else’s opinion being higher valued over his own. The Amontillado was a metaphor for Fortunado’s unfortunate death.
Montressor’s concern for Fortunado’s health and his friendly treatment towards him are the first signs of irony during the story. The title itself is ironic since “Cask” is a symbol for Fortunado’s coffin. The irony spreads from Fortunato’s name to his jester outfit. At the conclusion of Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor has gotten his revenge against unsuspecting Fortunato, whose connoisseurship of wine has led him to his own downfall. Montressor’s coat of arms and the Montresor family motto should be highly recognized. The crest is symbolic of Montresor’s diabolical personality, who like the serpent, intends to get his revenge.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Amontillado.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Peter Simon. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2010. 101-105. Print. Womack, Martha. “Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’” The Poe Decoder. 1 Oct 2010.