What do the Bells Symbolize in the Cask of Amontillado
The Cask of Amontillado is the history of the most atrocious revenge, one of the cruelest stories of Edgar Allan Poe. In the story, Montresor plans to take revenge on his friend Fortunato for an insult that Poe does not talk deeply. One afternoon, during a Carnival fest Montresor takes advantage of Fortunado’s drunkenness to walk him deeper into catacombs (the Amontillado) to chain him to the wall. That day Fortunato was dressed like a jester with a hat of bells on his head. These bells have a deep meaning in the story. The bells and its tinkling can represent death or life in the story since it has a connection to its 19th-century setting where people were buried with bells.
In general, bells are played to represent time, and the “tinkling” of bells occurs several times in the story. While Fortunado’s hood bells are ringing, his time and his life are coming to an end. These bells describe the culminating moment when Montresor quickly chains Fortunato to the wall. That ring in Fortunato’s hat produced by the bells naturally attracts attention. The tinkling of his bells indicates that he is moving physically.
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The story occurs in the 19th-century, where people were buried alive being that in those times medical knowledge was not as advanced as now. It could not be detected that they had unknown disorders such as catalepsy, a disorder with all the characteristics of death. The victims may be unaware of what is happening around him or even conscious without being able to react. The state of catalepsy can last minutes, hours or several days in extreme cases. Leading many people to be buried alive and many of them woke up afterward. There were signs of scratches and desperation of the corpses in the coffins where many ended up dying of suffocation. For that reason it was decided to tie a thread on the finger of those who died, this thread was attached to the surface together to a bell. If they woke up from their state they would move, the bell would also move, giving a sign of life to be able to dig them out.
Overall, the meaning of the tinkling bells is directly connected to the setting in the story. The tinkling bells show that Fortunato is mobilizing, just as the tinkling bells of the buried people represented a sign of life in the 19th century. The bells of Fortunato’s hat suggest that he is still alive.