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Copy of Dark Irony in The Cask of Amontillado

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Lezlie Miller-Arnold

on 23 February 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Dark Irony in The Cask of Amontillado

The Cask of Amontillado is believed by many to be one of the most ironic short stories ever written, as almost every aspect is dripping with it. The reason that Poe imploys this vast amount of irony is most commonly viewed as a means of building suspense, foreshadowing the ending, and to add a touch of macabre humor. Upon further analysis, Poe uses irony to develop his theme of a man who seeks salvation through repression (I will discuss further on if your confused). As well there is alot to cover so ask questions if you are confused as not all will be on the screen and I will simply mention it.
A Brief Discussion on The Cask of Amontillado

To begin, the title and its irony must be acknowledge. As a cask has the definition of being either a large container to hold wine or a shortened term for casket,this is clearly an example of dark irony, as well as a good example of forshadowing.
The Title and the Irony
The Characters
Fortunato is Italian for good fortune and luck, which is obviously the excact opposite for what Fortunato has as he is the victim of Montresor's revenge and is soon to die.
The coat of arms and motto for the Montresor family are two other great examples of dark irony. The motto is ironic as it states that "no one attacks me with impunity" and just as Montresor is apperently attacked by Fortunato, it is Fortunato who will be killed in the end; although Fortunato still manages to strike a final blow against Montresor, which proves very ironic. The crest further enforces this.
The Costumes
Fortunato is dressed as a jester which is ironic as he is someone of admirable status dressed in the apparel of someone who is normaly ridiculed. As well the bright costume contrasts the ghastly surroundings, as well as his ultimate demise.
Montresor's costume is deeply ironic in its similarities to the cloak and mask worn by an excecutioner, which further enforces the idea of Montresor acting as the judge, jury, and excecutioner. It is also similiar to a priest and this will later be tied in.
The setting of this story is also very important in creating an ironic atmosphere. The major contrast that is ironic is the festivities and merriment just above Montresor's and Fortunato's dark descent into gloom and revenge. This could be representative of the descent into madness of a diffferent nature to that of the on-going carnival.
The Setting
Here are some examples of verbal irony in the story.
Warning: the acting is fairly poor.
Examples of Irony
In the tale Poe uses character names, which have similiar meanings, to suggest that Fortunato and Montresor are different aspects of one personality. The name Fortunato is not only ironic, but also a pun on the word fortune; thereby suggesting that the Fortunato side of Montresor symbolizes fortune. Montresor's wish to bury Fortunato suggests that he is attempting to repress the personality which is greed . This links to Poe's education in faith as "people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction" and "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." (1 Timothy 6:9-10). By acquiring wealth, Fortunato causes Montresor “a thousand injuries”( 1 ) and Motresor can bare it, but when Fortunato gains wealth to the point of inspiring fear in others he ventures upon insulting God, for when a “man [seeks] greed for gain, [he] curses and renounces the Lord” (Psalms 10:3). Therefore Montresor needs to bury Fortunato in an effort to save his soul.
Deeper Analysis of the Irony in Fortunato
Deeper Analysis of the Irony in Montresor
Montresor’s name translations are mirrors of Fortunato’s in two ways. First, in French origin, Montresor’s name combines the words montrer (show) and sort (fate). Montresor’s name suggests that he shows Fortunato his fate. This is ironic as Fortunato receives no “utterance to a threat” (1) about his fate. By not showing Fortunato his fate, Montresor demonstrates that Fortunato’s live burial is an act of repression rather than suppresion. Secondly, the exact French derivative of Montresor’s name also parallels Fortunato’s name, for “mon tresor” translates to “my treasure” which demonstrates Montresor is the mirror image of Fortunato; except Montresor believes himself worthy of the treasure of salvation if he buries Fortunato.
Deeper Analysis of the Setting
The word carnival is very similiar to the Italian words "carne" and "levare" (to put away the flesh) which would demonstrate symbolic irony of Montresor’s intent for Fortunato. This could imply Montresor's intentions of using the carnival season to put away the flesh desires of his life and prepare himself for a humble life. Montresor will do this repressing through the burial of the sinful flesh of Fortunato, this would then make Montresor worthy of salvation.
Deeper Analysis of the Title
I believe the use of "cask" could symbolize a confessional. I based this on how Montresor says “[y]ou, who so well know the nature of my soul” (1). This implies a priest is receiving his confession the fifty years later. This is ironic as Montresor seems to demonstrate no sign of remorse for what he had done, and in fact believe this murder was an act of good. Yet still Montresor confesses, this seems to show Montresor's conscious knows what he had done had been an evil act.
Final Irony
As I had mentioned previously, Montresor represents a man who seeks salvation, and Montresor is willing to give up a half of himself to gain this salvation; this is in vain however for he demonstrates little to no remorse. Fortunato is representative of the sinful side of Montresor. Montresor should bring his sinful side to the light and confess; Montresor, however, chooses to in-trap Fortunato and thereby ironically ensures his own permanent darkness.
There are many different perspectives on what Poe's inspiration for "The Cask of Amontillado" was. Many believe, however, it was a feud between Poe and another writer named Thomas D. English. English and Poe had several conflicts, usualy causing them to make literary caricatures of one another. What inspired Poe for this specific work is Englishes story "1844" which has a character who seems to relate closely to Poe's work "The Raven" with this character being a drunk and low-life. Poe's knowledge on religion impacted this work deeply as well, and it paired with his revenge with impunity against English.
Related to Poe
The End
This tale strays from Poe's usualy path of the secluded artist, or of beauty and decay. This tale focuses on revenge and phsycological horror, which he was revolutionizing in gothic literature, and it could be argued that it does have madness in it, which is also usual in his other works (The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, Berenice) although I believe that Montresor is not mad as he recounts the tale very well with very little sign of madness. The irony imployed is also very unusual to his works as he often has more suttle irony rather than blatantly obvious. The irony however, helps enforce the gothic elements of revenge and anger and help to establish how cold and remorsless Montresor is, which aids in desplaying the cruelty involved.
How Does This Irony Prove Effective for the Gothic Element?
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