Irony Analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado” In “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, the main character named Montresor is set out for revenge. Montresor’s only concern is to get revenge on the man who has wronged him named Fortuanto. Montresor never states why Fortunato deserves to be punished. The only statement Montresor makes is that Fortunato “causes him a thousand injuries” until “venturing upon insult. ” (Poe, Online) Montresor plans to take out his revenge by burying Fortunato alive. Montresor carries out each detail while he smiles at his victim.
Montresor doesn’t smile at the thought of Fortunato’s “immolation” but because of viciousness. (Sweet Jr. Online) Montresor smiles because he believes the sacrifice of Fortunato will bring him a great reward. Fortunato is ironically the “mirror self” of Montresor (Sweet Jr. Online). Montresor’s desire to bury Fortunato alive “paints the psychological portrait of repression” (Sweet Jr. Online). The burial of Fortunato represses Montresor’s evil nature and puts him at peace. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe uses irony to develop his theme of seeking salvation through repression.
Poe uses Fortunato’s name ironically to symbolize one personality between Montresor and Fortunato. Though Fortunato means “the fortunate one” in Italian, Fortuanto meets an unfortunate fate as the victim Montresor’s overall revenge plot. (Stott, Online) Therefore, the Fortunato side of Montresor symbolizes fortune. Montresor’s desire is to repress Fortunato. Since “the love of money is the root of all evils,” a fortune would “plunge a man into ruin and destruction” (1Timothy 6:9-10). The Fortunato side of Montresor’s personality wants to have wealth.
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The wealth Fortunato receives makes him both respected and feared. (Poe, Online) By having wealth, Fortunato causes Montresor “a thousand injuries”(Poe, Online). When Fortunato’s wealth gains the fear of others, he “ventures upon insulting God” (Poe, Online). When a “man seeks greed for gain, he curses and renounces the Lord” (Psalms 10:3). Montresor needs to repress Fortunato to protect his soul from damnation. (Stott, Online) The only way Montresor can protect himself is to get rid of Fortunato. Montresor can repress the aspect of his personality which insults God by burying Fortunato alive.
Fortunato, ironically despite his name, faces a very unfortunate fate at the hands of Montresor. Montresor’s name translation similar to Fortunato’s in two ways. In French Montresor’s name “combines the words montrer and sort meaning to show fate” (Clendenning, Online). Montresor shows Fortunato his fate but Fortunato “receives no utterance to a threat” about his fate. (Poe, Online) When Montresor shows Fortunato his fate of being buried alive it demonstrates that Fortunato’s live burial is an act of repression. The second French translation for Montersor is “my treasure”.
Through punishing Fortunato Montresor believes he can have the treasure of purity and salvation. Fortunato’s dress is ironic for a man with his stature in society. Fortunato is a man with stature who is “rich, respected, and admired” (Poe, Online). Fortunato wears a “tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head is surmounted by the conical cap and bells” for the carnival. ” (Poe, Online). Instead of the cap representing Christ’s crown of thorns, the cap represents Satan’s role as “Prince of Fools” (Pittman, Online).
Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Christians were able to receive salvation. Through Fortunato’s sacrifice, Montresor will seek salvation. Montresor dresses more like a priest for the carnival season. “Montresor’s black roquelaire symbolizes a priest’s black cope worn during a funeral mass. ” (Cooney, Online) Montresor dresses for the occasion that he is going to bury Fortunato. Montresor’s attire suggests that the repression of Fortunato will have an important spiritual reward. Through the repression of Fortunato, Montresor will reach salvation.
The carnival setting ironically suggests a time for sin. “The carnival season consists of the last indulgences in the pleasures of the flesh” (Pittman, Online). Fortunato’s sin of abundantly drinking makes Montresor‘s plan easy to carry out. “The word carnival can be translated in Italian meaning to put away the flesh which demonstrates symbolic irony of Montresor’s intent for Fortunato” (Clendenning, Online). Montresor can make himself free of sin and worthy of salvation by repressing the sinfulness of Fortunato. The catacombs are an ironic symbol of the way Montresor thinks.
The repression begins when Montresor takes Fortunato into his family catacombs with the promise of Amontillado wine. The catacombs are “lined with human remains” and that suggests generational family troubles (Poe, Online). Fortunato keeps going farther and farther into the catacombs with only his sinful thoughts of being able to drink more wine, not knowing he is moving closer and closer to his fate of being buried alive. The wall symbolizes the finish of the repression of Fortunato. “Ironically, the wall forms Fortunato’s burial crypt. (Sweet Jr. , Online) Salvation can only happen when sins are repented. Once Fortunato yells “For the love of God, Montresor! ,” Montresor says “Yes, . . . for the love of God! ” (Poe, Online). Montresor believes that Fortunato’s repression shows his love for God and demonstrates Montresor reaching salvation. The cask symbolizes a confession. Montresor tells the story fifty years later in a confession tone. “When Montresor says, “You, who so well know the nature of my soul,” he implies a priest receives his confession” (Sweet Jr. , Online).
Montresor believes that Fortunato’s burial was done in good. Montresor has no remorse as he confesses but, he still confesses. “Montresor’s conscience knows Fortunato’s burial is an evil deed. ” (Sweet Jr. , Online) Montresor ends by saying “In pace requiescat” (Poe, Online). “Montresor’s prayer suggests that he desires relief from guilt, not forgiveness for a crime” (Sweet Jr. 11). The feeling of salvation Montresor seeks through his confession doesn‘t happen. “For a confession to receive absolution, the confessor must demonstrate the conviction of remorse. (Sweet Jr. , Online) Montresor is unable to achieve the salvation he seeks through the repression of Fortunato. The Amontillado symbolizes Christ’s blood in communion. Christ’s blood offers the salvation that Montresor seeks. The Amontillado may lead Fortunato to his burial but it symbolizes the salvation Montresor wants to gain through repression. Fortunato wants to drink the wine out of pride and lust while Montresor sees the wine as something that brings him the bond of communion and the reward of salvation.
Edgar Allan Poe’s uses ironic symbols throughout “The Cask of Amontillado. ” The ironic symbols helped him develop the theme of seeking salvation through repression. Fortunato’s character was able to represent man’s flesh and how people easily give in to the sins of the flesh while Montresor represents how man seeks salvation through acts of repression. Fortunato represents the side of Montresor that should confess but Montresor chooses to bury Fortunato which leads to the failure of his own salvation.
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