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Mystery, Irony, and Imagery in The Cask of Amontillado
"The Cask of Amontillado" is one of Edgar Allan Poe's greatest stories. In this story Poe introduces two central characters and unfolds a tale of horror and perversion. Montresor, the narrator, and Fortunato, one of Montresor's friends, are doomed to the fate of their actions and will pay the price for their pride and jealousy. One pays the price with his life and the other pays the price with living with regret for the rest of his life. Poe uses mystery, irony, and imagery to create a horrifying, deceptive, and perverse story.
Hoping to obtain revenge, Montresor, the narrator, lures Fortunato, one of his friends, into the depths of his catacombs to be murdered. Montresor says, "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge"(149). This is the first line in the story, and this is why Montresor seeks revenge. There is no explanation of the insults that Montresor received, so the reader may infer that Montresor is just lying. The insults that were received could possibly be just outdoing in the business arena. Montresor might be using that excuse for his desire to kill Fortunato, because he may be killing Fortunato out of jealousy. Montresor is likely telling this story to a family member, friend, or his doctor while lying on his deathbed. Montresor says, "…your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter."(150). Montresor just admitted that he knows Fortunato is better than he. Montresor may have been under the influence of jealousy. Redd 4 There are different theories to ...
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...ows the reader to interpret the end of the story by himself, which brings imagination into the picture. Why does Montresor hesitate in putting up the last stone? This makes the reader wonder if Montresor was beginning to feel guilty. At the end of the story Montresor and Fortunato talk a little. Montresor called aloud, "Fortunato!" No answer came so Montresor states, "I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so"(153). This statement leads the reader to believe that Montresor may have had a moment when his conscience begins to creep up on him. He quickly states that it is the dampness of the catacombs that makes his heart sick.
Poe, Allan, Edgar. The Cask of Amontillado (Mass Market Paperbacks, 1990)