9/17/01
Critical Reading and Writing
“The Cask of Amontillado”, written by Edgar Allen Poe, is a classic
tale of revenge. This flawlessly diabolical plan of revenge begins to take
shape during a period of great celebration. The Cask of Amontillado begins
during the carnival season of an unknown Italian city. Written in 1846, the
story takes place on the streets of a carnival and moves into the dark and
dreary crypt in the palazzo of the main character, Montressor’s .This
location adds to the menacing atmosphere of the story. The scenes and
different settings are limited; Poe chooses the perfect scene for the type
of image he is trying to portray. This enhances the mood of the story.


After Montressor asserts: “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had
borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge…

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I must not only punish, but punish with impunity”, he takes it upon himself
to devise a plan of vengeance. In the time following the insult, Montressor
is very wary not arouse the suspicions of Fortunato. He has decided upon
revenge and spends his days figuring out how and when his revenge will be
most effective. Ultimately, Monteressor decides to use Fortunato’s
strengths against him. Since Fortunato is a connoisseur of fine wines, he
plans to lure him with wine.

One evening during the carnival season, Montressor encounters the
drunken Fortunato dressed as a jester. He lures him back home with him
because he exclaims that he is in need of advice. He offers to get the
advice from another man, but Fortunato will not let his reputation as the
best wine taster become blemished. Montressor explains that he has just
purchased a cask of what seems to be “Amontillado” but he is not quite sure
whether he was fooled. Fortunato offers to return home with him to settle
the matter. After Fortunato has taken the bait, the two proceed towards the
palazzo of Montressor. Upon arrival, Montressor is excessively polite and
offers to turn back due to the obvious cough and cold of Fortunato. Whether
it is due to determination or sheer intoxication, Fortunato refuses to turn
back. As they begin to venture into the vaults, Montressor sees his plan
taking shape. They finally reach the most remote end of the crypt into a
small less spacious room. In a deceitful manner, Montressor gets Fortunato
to enter the room, which is no more than four feet deep, three feet wide,
and six or seven feet tall. The moment he enters the room, Montressor
chains him. Implementing the final stage of his plan, Montressor walls
Fortunato in the room using a pile of bricks that he has assembled. Too
intoxicated to even attempt resistance, Fortunato spend the whole time
screaming. In a last attempt at freedom, he even tries to play off the
whole incident as a joke and asks Montressor to release him. Growing sick
at heart due to the darkness of the crypt, Montressor hurries and finishes
his plan. His revenge was complete. He lives up to the words on his
family’s coat of arms: “Nemo me impune lacessit”, which means “No one
assails me with impunity.”
Discussion
It is a rarity to find a story so rich in its symbolism and dramatic
irony. Edgar Allen Poe undoubtedly captures the essence of fear and
suspense while perfectly utilizing the aforementioned literary devices. It
is through the use of these two devices that he delivers the quality that
he is so well known for.

From the beginning of the story the irony is apparent. The first
ironic aspect of the story is the name Fortunato. This name suggests good
fortune, when in reality; the character of Fortunato experiences quite the
opposite. He suffers a terrible death after being lured into a chamber by a
friend. A second and perhaps less important example of irony in the story
is the setting. The characters meet during a carnival. While carnival is
thought to be a time of fun and celebration, it turns out to be a time of
death and revenge. The way the narrator treats Fortunato is also very
ironic. While the narrator makes it clear to the reader that Fortunato is
suffering from a severe cold, he proceeds to complement Fortunato during
the carnival on his “remarkable appearance.” Fortunato is tricked and led
into a pride struggle when the seemingly friendly Montressor displays
apparent concern. A perfect example of the obviously ironic and twisted
nature of Montressor is when he offers to

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