Allan Edgar Poe utilizes irony in his tale "The Cask of Amontillado" to make his readers a little curious about what is happening in the story. The plot provides varieties of visual, dramatic, and circumstantial irony and helps forecast what’s to come.
There is adequate usage of irony and symbolism throughout the book. For instance, in naming the character of Fortunato, Allan utilizes verbal irony. From the sound of the name, one would think that the character would be lucky, as in, fortunate. However, it is the complete opposite of the story. Fortunato was blindly guided to his grave by someone he saw as an admiring partner, not knowing he’s just a former friend in pursuit of vengeance. A fortunate man wouldn't have been guided to death in the same manner as Fortunato.
Allan is best known for his Gothic genre mastery. The author incorporates a lot of irony in the book. What renders the short tale more mysterious yet fascinating and engrossing is, at some point, readers would have thought that they could guess the end of a scene, but the elusive writer always surprised them. The purpose of this essay is to show some irony from Allan's work. It extracts three kinds of irony from it. These are situational irony, verbal irony, and dramatic irony.
The plot takes place during the Carnival season in an Italian region. Two of the primary characters are Montresor, who is a narrator and protagonist seeking vengeance for thousands of unspecific injuries, and Fortunato, an affluent man, unabashed of his skill as a wine connoisseur. The entire story takes place for a day and it centers on just one thing — the plot to kill Fortunato. Therefore, the protagonist is the first person, and he is unpredictable. In this brief story, the subjects are vengeance, pride, and deceit.
The story begins with a line narrating how Montresor was lamenting on what ensued between him and Fortunato, and how we considered vengeance after Fortunato preferred to insult him despite putting him through too much suffering. Allan's spokesman states the opposite. He has endured wounds, however, insults were what he would not tolerate. The narrator, Montresor is credited with a name that has the same meaning as “my treasure''. He expresses his intent to avenge the misguided Fortunato, who perpetrated some undefined offense to the prestige and career of Montresor. Besides, if revenge overtakes the redresser, a mistake becomes unsolved. Montresor wants not only retribution but also penalty with immunity. The translation of the name Montresor resembles that of Fortunato in two respects. Firstly, the name, in French, incorporates the words “montre” (to show) and “sor” (fate).
We realize that Fortunato was hated by Montresor, but he wasn’t aware. The convicted protagonist is oblivious of the polite disposition of Montresor being a guise of goodwill, and that his grin is at the prospect of the demise of Fortunato. It is even possible to derive irony in the description of Allan's novel.
The word cask, that is, the barrel of wine derives from the word used in forming casket, which is a coffin. The cask describes Fortunato's casket so figuratively.
“My lovely Fortunato, you're fortunately met” is an ironic anecdote, for he would have been fortunate, and he might have been far luckier if he weren't crashing into Montresor that fateful night.
The story happened in the folly and joy moments of the carnival season. The intoxicated Fortunato is putting on motley, a jester's hat, and a jester's whistle, but he isn't sensible. Montresor exploits Fortunato's confidence in his knowledge of wine and tells him to test whether the recent sales of Montresor’s wine are a regular sherry or a costly Amontillado. Fortunato sides with Montresor's claims that it is a burden and a danger to health as the vaults in which the wine is processed are damp and humid. The demonstrated consideration of Montresor for the welfare of other individuals contrasts with his real motives.
A carnival, a feast day of fire, joy, and fun, was where Fortunato met Montresor. It is doubtful that anybody would expect a carnival to become the pinnacle of a killing plan. This portrays an example of situational irony.
There's verbal irony in the story. “My precious Fortunato,” says Montresor, and acts like teasing how “fortunately we meet.” The pride of Montresor was hurt by Fortunato's insults, either real or perceived, and Montresor aims badly for him, but his words spurting with honey disguise his intentions and endear to Fortunato's dignity.
How did Montresor realize there would be no servants available? He told them he was going out for the whole night and had “explicitly ordered them that they should not go out.” That, he knew, was enough as soon as he had left, to “ensure their imminent disappearance.” This is a mixture of situational and verbal irony.
Both head into the catacombs, then Montresor voices his fear over the nitrous walls and the recurrence of Fortunato's cough again and again. “Cough is nothing”, the poor to-be victim says, “it won't kill me.” Some other illustration of verbal irony is when Fortunato trusts in Montresor's right attitude while traveling through the tombs and says that a damp cavern will hurt the well being of Fortunato.
However, Fortunato was right — his cough wasn't going to kill him, but his insistence, that it won't. When Montresor confirms the death of Fortunato, the last illustration of irony comes into play. Since calling the name “Fortunato” on several occasions, Montresor gathers up and says “rest in peace.” Montresor murders Fortunato, but it is ironic in itself that he still wishes him peace, but it can't be fully accepted. ⠀
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