What do you think of when you hear the name “Edgar Allan Poe?” The words dark, creepy, and even scary may come to mind. The Cask of Amontillado shows how far a vengeful narrator is willing to go to restore his honor and dignity, all the while creating a creepy atmosphere with a mix of both symbolism and irony. It’s no wonder Poe was considered a great master of horror.
In The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor, our narrator, is driven into getting revenge on Fortunato, the man who ventured insult unto him. It doesn’t say exactly what he did, but Montresor was set on punishing Fortunato with “impunity” and allowed us to believe that the crime was horrible enough to be punishable by death. Since the story is being told from Montresor’s self-serving viewpoint, his thoughts and actions are easily classified as something only someone not of a sane mind would have and/or do, therefore making him an unreliable narrator. In his mind, he is doing the right thing by committing murder because he thinks he is correct and even tries to justify his wrongdoings to us by mentioning his family’s coat of arms and its motto, “No one insults me with impunity.”
The creepy atmosphere in The Cask is created by mostly taking place in the dark, gloomy catacombs, in contrast to the lively, high-spirited carnival setting at the beginning of the story. Poe does an excellent job creating tension by letting the reader know that Montresor, regardless of having only dark intentions, inflates Fortunato’s ego with compliments, hence, having a greater chance of leaving him ignorant of being led to his inevitable doom. Despite guiding Fortunato into a trap, and eventually his death, Montresor stays calm, collected, and even seems to be caring and sympathetic towards Fortunato. Even after telling Fortunato that they should go back because of his worsening cough, knowing the warning will be ignored, he simply replies, “the cough is a mere nothing. It will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.” And so they continue with their journey for the reason that Fortunato is an egotistical buffoon.
Did you know that “Fortunato” is Italian for Fortunate? Or how Poe purposely wrote for Fortunato to be dressed as a fool as a symbolic representation for what he is. Poe, like in many other of his stories, used a lot of symbolism and irony, no matter how subtle or obvious he made it. A few more examples of symbolism are: “The madness of the carnival season,” representing the...