The Psychological Elements in the Cask of Amontillado,a Short story by Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask of Amontillado is told through Montresor’s eyes and he begins by making his confession of murdering Fortunato. The above quote is the very first sentence and Poe uses this to draw us into Montresor’s paranoia. Poe even uses the story’s setting to increase the atmosphere of fear and anticipation in the reader. Much like a scary movie would use sound effects and eerie music, the violence slowly builds up as the tale progresses. This gothic horror story plays on people’s fear of death and being buried alive. This is why the story is so captivating. Poe walks us through this tale by using a wide range of both dramatic and verbal irony, foreshadowing and symbolism. Ultimately, this story allows you to enter the mind of the murderer and how he seeks revenge on an unsuspecting character. In this story, the protagonist should be seen as mentally unstable. Throughout the entire story, Montresor has a calm, cool and collected demeanor about him. His drive for revenge on the antagonist has enveloped his mind and clouded his judgment. Also, he is only telling this secret now, many years after the murder took place. Therefore, Montresor would be deemed an unreliable narrator.

Edgar Allan Poe is known for his dark and gothic writing style. This was mostly to cater to the audiences preferred taste during the 1800s. The Cask of Amontillado was based on a similar story that he learned of during his time in the service. His inspiration for Fortunato was a rival by the name of Thomas Dunn English. Poe and English had several confrontations, usually revolving around literary caricatures of one another. Poe tells his story through use of several literary terms. Dramatic irony is used while the two begin their journey to the supposed Amontillado by drink and cheers. “I drink, he said, “to the buried that repose around us.” “And I to your long life,” responds Montresor. The irony is that Montresor very well knows that what is in store for Fortunato is the complete opposite. A good use of verbal irony is when Fortunato sneers at Montresor’s claim of being a mason. Montresor then reveals his trowel and later shows that he is a mason by enclosing Fortunato in with a wall of bricks.

To add, Poe exhibits a lot of foreshadow through dialogue in this short story. A prime example is when Fortunato says that he will not die of a cough. Montresor simply replies, “True,” knowing full well that he intends to bury Fortunato alive. Also, a good use of symbolism is when they make their way deeper into the tunnels. The pair passes by skeletal remains, representing that they are closing in on Fortunato’s trap. In conclusion, The Cask of Amontillado allows a reader to enter the mind of a mentally unstable character. The story shows just how much thought and planning was put into the Montresor’s revenge on Fortunato. Poe sparks the readers interest by using several literary terms to include: dramatic irony, verbal iron, foreshadowing and symbolism. The protagonists’ demeanor towards the entire situation gives us an inside view of the chaos of psychosis.

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