Analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could but when he ventured upon insult. I vowed revenge you who so whelmed of the nature of my soul will not suppose however that I gave utterance to a threat.” (Poe 1). This is the first two sentences in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and sets a tone that develops the characters and reflects the story’s theme. The violence in the passage may represent the revenge by Montresor, symbolized by the catacombs. With all of the previous acts of violence that Fortunato committed, Montresor was tired of being abused and he took advantage of Fortunato. Like any other person, Montresor has to get his revenge in and he may even have taken it a little too far. Throughout the story, there are numerous literary elements used. The two I believe were the most commonly used were irony and imagery. Throughout the story, Edgar Allan Poe uses such symbols as giving the character the name Fortunato. Montresor takes him into the catacombs to give him a certain alcohol, which gives you a feeling that is somewhat ironic because his name is Fortunato and he is dealt with being killed all to get revenge from many previous events.

When you think of the name Fortunato, the root word fortune comes to mind. To me, this story is very ironic because I thought all along that Fortunato would never really have any repayment from his previous actions. However, I was completely wrong and it is very ironic that the complete opposite happened. Immediately, the notion is implied that something good or fortunate would come from that name. First, Montresor waits until Fortunato gets drunk and he then leads him into the catacomb and basically torchers him to death. Later however, after thinking about his death and punishment, it is really harsh but maybe he really deserved the result he was given. It is as though Montresor sees a pathway to his own freedom from the person who has been harming him for many previous years. In fact, after he killed Fortunato he stacks a pile of stones and bones and he says no one has messed with the tomb for fifty years. When the story is told, it is fifty years after he killed the drunk, Fortunato. In fact, on the last line Montresor says, “In pace requiescat” (Poe 1)! This phrase means, “May he rest in peace,” and this shows that he has never had any punishment for it.

A more subtle use of imagery in the story occurs through the narrator’s references to the catacombs and the description of the setting in the underground catacomb from Montresor’s family. In addition to this, Poe describes the characters and he says, “Fortunato was dressed in very nice clothes planning to go to the carnival already drunk” (Poe). When Montresor sees him in this state he knew immediately, he was going to take advantage of him. He quickly says, “I have a rare brandy called amontillado in the catacomb” (Poe). Fortunato quickly gets interested and is eager to go into the catacomb and try out the alcohol. When walking into the catacomb the author gives imagery talking about how the walls had vegetation growing on it and describing the dark underground tomb where Montresor’s family was buried. There were bones and stones all over the ground when you entered the catacombs. It even describes details on Fortunato’s hat with bells jingling. In the title of the story, the word cask means booze barrels and puncheons, and there were in fact booze barrels laying everywhere in the catacomb. The author describes the air as so nasty the flames on their torches glow rather than actually flaming. Fortunato then finds the amontillado in the catacomb where he finds it in the wall of the stone. It then describes the “building stones and mortar” used to enclose Fortunato into the carved-out wall where he is trapped and can’t get out. With no hesitation, he immediately starts to scream and Montresor accomplishes what he is trying to do. The hatred is built up inside of Montresor when he shines his lights into the cracks between the stones and just looks at Fortunato. He then begins to lead Fortunato on by talking to him while trapped by the stones in the carve out where the amontillado was. Montresor then feels sick about what was done and no one had touched the tomb in fifty years.

Finally, when looking back on the story, Montresor has all of these events planned out when he starts off inviting his “friend” Fortunato over with no one home and Fortunato is already drunk planning on going to the carnival. Next, he tells Fortunato that he has a special type of brandy in the Montresor family catacombs called amontillado. Drunk and anxious to taste this special kind of alcohol, he wants nothing else but to get his hands on this precious drink. He then is lead into the catacomb by Montresor where he had it dark with torches and he finds the alcohol so excited to drink it and is enclosed into a stone carve out where the cask of amontillado was located. He screams and tries as hard as he could to get out but it was too late. Montresor had trapped him in the stone carve out and was getting revenge on the person who had been taking advantage of him the whole time. At the beginning of the story it says that Montresor had been abused over a thousand times and he was tired of it so he made sure no one was home and got his revenge in the harshest way possible.

To wrap things up, Montresor was very clever in the way that he set up these series of events. It made the story very interesting and kept you on your feet while reading because you were eager to figure out what happens next in the story. When Montresor takes Fortunato into the catacombs to give him a certain alcohol, it is certainly the climax of the story that definitely gives you a feeling that is somewhat ironic because his name is Fortunato and he is dealt with being killed all to get revenge from many previous events that wasn’t expected.