StudyBoss » Literary Review: “The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe”

Literary Review: “The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe”

In “The Cask of Amontillado”, Edgar Allan Poe takes us on a trip into the mind of a mad man. Poe uses certain elements to convey an emotional impact. He utilizes irony, descriptive detail of setting, and dark character traits to create the search of sinfulness deceit. Poe also use the first person, where the narrator is the protagonist who is deeply involved. The purpose is to get the reader to no longer be the observer. He wants them to see with Montressor’s eyes, hear with his ears, and to react as he would.

There is no real violence in the modern sense of the word. However, it is more horrifying because rather than seeing it through our eyes, we feel it through words. This short story is a great example of how descriptive imagery and irony can give an overall mood of horror and impending evil. The story provides the reader with the feeling of deception and a curiosity of the darkness of the murderous plot. Poe’s style is what makes this a masterpiece of horror. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a powerful tale of revenge.

Poe does not disappoint us as his audience, as we are invited to visit the inner workings of a sinister mind. Telling the story from Montressor’s point of view, intensifies the effect of the moral shock and horror. Through Poe’s use of irony, this short story is a carefully crafted story of revenge with ironic wordplay. Montressor seeks revenge in an effort to support his time-honored family motto: “nemo me impune lacessit” or (no one attack me without being punished). Montressor, the sinister narrator of this tale, pledges revenge on Fortunato for an insult.

The character of Montressor provides the pinnacle of deceit and belligerence needed to portray the story’s sin. An example of Montressor’s deception is portrayed in his concern for Fortunato’s health. Montressor remarks that Fortunato’s health is precious, and that Fortunato is rich, respected, admired, and beloved. This false sense of friendship and care is the ultimate deception trait found in Montressor. The setting Poe chooses for the story adds to the horror. The details of the environment help to increase the feeling of sinful darkness.

His use of descriptive imagery help us experience the catacombs ourselves. He sets most of the story in the dark, damp series of winding tunnels of the catacombs. The weather is an example of the sinfulness that exist in the catacombs. Drops of moisture trickle among the bones, and the ground is constantly damp. Poe use these illustrations to remind us the sliminess nature of the catacombs. Through Poe’s use of descriptive detail we get the feeling as if it is us, the reader, who is being led through the crazed corridors of Montressor’s mind.

Poe uses several different types of irony throughout the story. Dramatic irony, where the reader perceives something that a character in the story does not, is seen in the plot of the story. It is Fortunato’s obsession for wine that dramatically lures him to his death. Fortunate approached Montressor with a lot of warmth from his heavy wine drinking. The search for the Amontillado (Spanish sherry) delivers the plot for the murder. The thing that provides Fortunato with warmth, is also the thing that helps cause the murder.

The irony of the carnival setting, and Fortunato’s attire illustrate a murderous plot taking place in a happy setting. This warm setting contains a contrast to the sinful deceit that Poe creates later in the story. This sinful humor is seen throughout the story in examples of situational irony. When Poe dresses Fortunato as a jester or a fool’s costume, since Montressor intends to make a fool of him as part of his dark plan. There are also numerous examples of verbal irony, which is when the character says one thing but means another.

Montressor expresses concern about Fortunato’s health, and several times suggest that they should turn back for fear that his cough will worsen as a result of the cold dampness of the catacombs. In reply Fortunato says, “the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough. ” He did not know how accurate he was, however Montressor did. Another example is when Fortunato drinks a toast to the people buried in Montressor’s catacombs, “I drink to the buried that repose around us,” not knowing he soon would join them.

The sinful deceit in “The Cask of Amontillado” is linked to Poe’s use of irony, descriptive detail, and character traits. The short story successfully creates an emotion of sin and deceit. Through his writing techniques we get a vivid idea of his deception and darkness. The damp catacombs of “The Cask of Amontillado” complement the dark doings, but the setting gives closure to the total effect in a subtle fashion. Although, a short story, Poe creates a nightmare that is almost guaranteed to give his readers a sleepless night. As the “cask” of Amontillado draws Fortunato into the “casket”, we get a feeling of our own fear.

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