Irony in “The Cask of Amontillado”

Category: Literature
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“The Cask of Amontillado” written by Edgar Allan Poe, is a work of literature that sets a dark magnetic attraction for all types of readers. Poe organizes this piece as a thriller through various techniques of suspense and curiosity. Set in the 19th century, disrespect towards a man’s family name is an action accepted by no one (Poe). A man named “Montresor” seeks revenge through precise planning and deviant actions to gain ease, ease from discomfort “Fortunato” brought against him and his families name (Poe). “The Cask of Amontillado” is an intriguing piece that attracts audiences through imagery, irony, and suspense. Poe uses an abundant amount of imagery throughout the piece to show the main character Montresor despises Fortunato. “I continued to smile in his face, and he did not understand that I was now smiling at the thought of what I planned for him, at the thought of my revenge” (Poe).

The line is used here by many other regular people like ourselves, to hide suspicious emotion (Morsberger). The usage of showing fake emotion to hide what we initially feel, is a method very popular amongst many (Baraban). This sentence shows a series of emotion that a reader can depict: fake smiling and staring, readers can often relate due to the fact that others like themselves do it. Images like this can be created and readers can clearly understand the author more (Morsberger). Poe uses a significant amount of imagery in this piece, and supporting it would not be difficult to do. For example, “the poor Fortunato. But when the narrator concludes that his heart is growing sick ‘on account of the dampness of the catacombs,’ it becomes clear that Montresor feels satisfaction about his monstrous deed” (Baraban). This example here supports the imagery used by Poe, he takes him down to the dark and hollow hallways while still using these context words that provide a sense of suspense. Why would he be taking him down so deep? He does is to make sure no one will ever find him. “For half a century now no human hand has touched them. May he rest in peace!” (Poe). No one has touched the walls that he took Fortunato down on, so that was the perfect crime scene. The use of irony in this piece really showed how Poe organizes the crime scene and how he uses irony to show what Montresor will eventually do to him. Irony introduces how he will confront his devious plan, and what he must do to accomplish it (Morsberger).

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In the beginning of the piece he was oddly upset, due to the way he was being described, then as he mentions his plans he switches from a mood of negativity to cheerful. He uses the method of fake smiling to show that he plans to do terrible things to him. “And also the wrong would not be made right unless Fortunato knew that he was paying and knew who was forcing him to pay. I gave Fortunato no cause to doubt me. I continued to smile in his face, and he did not understand that I was now smiling at the thought of what I planned for him, at the thought of my revenge” (Poe). This here shows through precise planning and proper patience he will complete what he plans, but in order to do so, he must give no sign of suspense. Later on, he goes on to detail his statements of letting the servants leave to not have any witnesses, proper word choice and emotion gave him that opportunity to make sure they would leave (Poe). Montresor is a man with various techniques he uses statements that triggers a response (Baraban). Speaking of the incident with when Montresor ran into Fortunato he says he was looking for fine-wine expert, knowing Fortunato would refute, he mentions the wine that drew him into his scheme (Baraban).

Irony in this piece really sets up how everything will go down and how he feels, or what he is feeling. The creation of suspense this piece has to offer really makes it stand out from many other literatures that introduce the same tone. The feeling of not knowing what will happen or what was supposed to happen is very dominate in the piece. Fortunato is left behind in a wall shackled and not given any opportunity to fight for a life that he drew down into a negative spiral. “Montresor! Ha-ha. This is a very good joke, indeed. Many times will we laugh about it — ha-ha — as we drink our wine together — ha-ha” (Poe). No clue of what was going to happen or if it was going to happen that way, sort of a way of not getting any part of his hands dirty. Dirty in a way of not spilling blood, but getting the whole scheme done calmly. This also drives into the next topic many other authors analyze, the insanity that Montresor does not openly express (Baraban). The calm detailed conversation he had with Fortunato really was a little psychotic, no sense of rush to do it or urgency to take him down into his pit (Baraban). This really brought out a side that was not expected or taken very easily, so the actions really made his character a little curious as to what his motive was to do when he got the chance to take him out. While many literatures offer weak suspense and not fully incorporate meaning, “The Cask of Amontillado” provides an intriguing attraction through vivid imagery, irony, and nerve racking suspense. Poe introduces the piece with irony, shifting the characters tone from negative to joyful purposely. He also provides imagery that accurately incorporates the suspense all in one. Suspense in this piece really sets it from other works of literature, as it incorporates thrilling curiosity and darkness.

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Irony in "The Cask of Amontillado". (2021, Mar 16). Retrieved from