The haunting confession of revenge and murder
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a horror story about revenge and murder that occurred half a century ago. Through the haunting confession of the narrator, Montresor, the reader is able to feel what Fortunato had endured half a century ago. In this tale of revenge and murder the dark, damp, and bone-filled catacombs provide a contrast to life during the “madness of the carnival” (553).
Through the acts, thoughts, and words of the protagonists Montresor, the reader is able to feel the psychological torment that Fortunato is about to endure. The first line in the story Montresor said “The thousand of injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge” (553). Revenge remains a constant theme through the entire story. Montresor went to great lengths planning the revenge and murder of Fortunato. He knows that during the carnival everyone will be dressed in costume, mask, and drinking. No-one will be able to recognize them. Montresor himself put on a “mask of black silk” (554) and a “roquelaire” (554). He has also made certain that his attendants’ would not be at home, to be sure that there are no witnesses to his horrendous act.
Just about everything Montresor says is ironic. He says just the opposite of what he means. He keeps inquiring about Fortunato’s health, Fortunato says that he “shall not die of a cough” (554). Montresor agrees with him, he knows what will ultimately be the death of Fortunato. Montresor deviously leads Fortunato to the vaults “down the long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious” (554). Montresor opens a bottle of wine and makes a toast to his friend’s “long life” (555). As Fortunato continues to drink he loses control and Montresor gains more control over the situation. The greatest use of irony is when Montresor says he is a member of the masons. Fortunato assumes he is a fellow member of a society, when really he is merely a bricklayer, who intends to seal him in the bricks for all eternity. This conversation also provides foreshadowing in the story when Montresor produces a “trowel” (555). This is the first clue shown to the reader as to how Montresor will kill Fortunato. By the end of the story the reader is even more aware of the irony that Poe has used. If ever anyone comes across Fortunato’s skeleton they will find him dressed in a “tight-fitting parti-striped dress” and on his head a “conical cap and bells” (553).
The setting gives the reader an awareness of the dark, sinister mind of Montresor. The catacombs provide an appropriate setting for the story’s suspense and inevitable ending. Poe describes the men passing “walls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons intermingling into the inmost recesses of the catacombs” (555). The dark and...