The Clever Use of Irony in The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Cask of Amontillado is a story about fear and revenge. The story begins with Montressor’s vow of revenge, foreshadowing future actions. “The thousand injuries of Fortunato 1 had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult vowed revenge…” Montressor had to be sure not to raise suspicion of what he was going to do Fortunate. Montressor knew that Fonunato had a weakness that he could use towards his advantage. An important element in any story is setting. Authors use setting to convey certain feelings brought on by the characters surroundings It also subliminally serves to illustrate the characters intentions. In The Cask of Amontillado, Poe uses the dark; imposing setting to dojust that, communicate the underlying theme of the story, being death, revenge and deception. Poe begins setting the tone of the story by describing the gloomy and threatening vaults beneath Montressors home.
The first description of the Montressor home, as well as the readers first hint that something is amiss, is the description of the time off Montressor had required his employees to take. This alone lets us know that some of his intentions are less than virtuous. He describes the vaults as extensive, having many rooms. and being insufferably damp, This description of the vaults strikes a feeling of uneasiness and fear in the reader, as well as a fear of malevolent things to come. References to the bodies laid to rest in the caskets and the nitre, tell us things to come, The story is of a man and his revenge. Montresor, who is vengeful, takes all his revenge out on Fourtunato, who in reality has no idea what is going to take place, Poe creates a great deal of irony to make this a truly horrifying story; he uses verbal irony, situational irony, and even, dramatic irony.
The verbal irony, or the difference between what a characters says and what their words actually mean, appears throughout the story. At one point when Fortunate begins coughing, Montresor suggest that they go back. Fortunate replies 1 shall not die of a cough. Although the reader may not realize the significance of the comment on first reading the story, he later realizes the great irony of the statement, for Fortunate does not die of a cough but of something much worse. On the way Montresor says, I drink to your health Fortunate Knot knowing he was going to be killed in a few minutes drinks with him. Poes use verbal irony adds to the horror of the situation. Poe also uses situational irony or the reversing of expectations to increase the horror in the story. Montresor gives cough medicine to Fortunate it is really wine, Montresor knew he would take it and get drunk. This type of irony is used to give the reader a twist or turn and keep his or her attention.
Because we would think Fortunate would be smart enough to tell the difference. After all, he is a wine connoisseur and should be able to tell the difference between wine and medicine. But he was not. The third type of irony Poe develops so well is dramatic irony in which we know something the character doesnt. when Montresor tries to get Fortunate drunk. We know that something is up but Fortunate has no idea. This type of irony sets the story up so that we feel like we are on the inside it makes us a pan of the story. By using irony throughout the story Poe involves the reader from the beginning. As the we realizes the insanity of the author, we become more and more horrified that one human Could torture and kill another. By the expert use of irony Poe turns a simple plot into a suspenseful story of a twisted vengeful mind. This was something he did so very well