In the short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe writes in first person point of view, from the perspective of Montresor, the diabolical narrator of this tale, who vows revenge against Fortunato. Montresor began to develop the perfect plan for retribution. During the carnival season, Montresor encounters Fortunato and decides to implement his plan carefully not to arouse Fortunato’s suspicions through irony. Poe’s story describes the inner workings of a murderer’s mind, Montresor, who has lived the memory of Fortunato’s death for fifty years. Poe uses different types of irony in the conversations between Montresor and Fortunato.
First, Poe uses dramatic irony in the story. For example, Montresor expresses concern about Fortunato’s health. Montresor points out, “Come, I said, with decision, we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible” (434). Both the reader and Montresor know of his devious plan of murder that awaits Fortunato when he descends into the catacombs in search for the wine. But, Fortunato, nave, does not suspect that Montresor is capable of such an act.
Montresor pretends that he is concerned about Fortunato’s health, when he says they should go back. In fact, Montresor could care less about Fortunato’s health; he is just concerned about his own advantage of manipulation by luring him into the catacombs to carry out his plan. Montresor also intends to be responsible for Fortunato’s death. Montresor does not want Fortunato to die of a cough or from the niter in the catacombs, but of his own destruction. The drunken Fortunato is the only one in the story who is unaware of Montresor’s real motives; which demonstrates situational irony.
Another example is when the two men are having a conversation about returning to the carnival, but Fortunato insists going to the catacombs with Montresor. Fortunato states, “Enough, he said; the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough” (434). Then Montresor states, “True–true, I replied; and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily–but you should use all proper caution” (434). Poe illustrates this irony: the reader knows of the narrator’s intentions but Fortunato does not. Little does Fortunato know how true his words are.
Fortunato is not going to die of a cough, but due to Montresor’s deceit. Secondly, Poe uses numerous examples of verbal irony. For instance, when Montresor toasts to Fortunato’s long life. Montresor says, “Drink” (434). Then Fortunato says, “I drink, to the buried that repose around us. ” Then again, Montresor says, ‘”And I to your long life”‘ (434). Montresor, however, does not intend for Fortunato to live very long at all. On the contrary, Montresor is toasting because he wants Fortunato to accompany his ancestors in the catacombs. Furthermore, Montresor addresses Fortunato as his dear friend, when they first encounter each other.
Fortunato believes that Montresor is his friend, when actually he intends to make a fool out of him. Thus, Montresor states, “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably you are looking today! But I have received a pipe of what passes Amontillado, and I have my doubts” (432). Montresor calls Fotunato “dear” when he hates this man with a passion. He also knows that Fortunato is not dressed appropriately; he is dressed as a clown, but Montresor still compliments him on his attire, because his attire fits with Montresor’s plans- to make a fool out of him.
Moreover, Montresor points out, “My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature” (433). Montresor again calls him his friend, which is ironic because he hates Fortunato and considers him an enemy. He also says that Fortuanto is good, but Montresor knows that he is not good because Fortunato insulted him. After being insulted by Fotunato, Montresor is not about to consider him a true friend and has planned to kill him out of revenge. In this tale of revenge, Poe illustrates a variety of ironic situations between Montresor and Fortunato.
Montresor preys upon Fotunato’s tendency to drink, as well as upon is vanity. Poe’s story reveals that Fortuanto’s fate is death, not life. Montresor is so evil that he tries to convince the reader that his intentions are honorable. Every detail of irony is so perfectly crafted to show Montresor’s cleverness to deceive his “dear friend” Fortunato, by implying one thing but actually meaning another.. Montresor skillfully illustrates a confession of a murderer and justification for the actions.