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In The Cask of Amontillado Edgar Allen Poe uses symbolism, humor, and irony to develop his theme of how Fortunato's foolishness costed him his life - Essay Example

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If there is one thing I have learned from our readings of Edgar Allan Poes works this semester, it is that he has hidden serious meanings behind every costume, prop, character name, and action in his story. His use of symbolism, humor, and irony is something that has helped make…
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In The Cask of Amontillado Edgar Allen Poe uses symbolism, humor, and irony to develop his theme of how Fortunatos foolishness costed him his life
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The Use of Symbolism, Humor, and Irony in The Cask of Amontillado If there is one thing I have learned from our readings of Edgar Allan Poes works this semester, it is that he has hidden serious meanings behind every costume, prop, character name, and action in his story. His use of symbolism, humor, and irony is something that has helped make his stories stand out from the other writers stories of its time. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, he advantageously uses these three themes in order to tell a disturbing tale of human jealousy, petty spite, and revenge.
The cask in itself becomes a central character in the story. Though originally used as a mere instrument by which the story could take off, it takes on a life of its own as it symbolizes the perceived wealth and success in life of its owner. It is a symbol that Fortunato refuses to believes exists but then with his curiosity getting the better of him, he embarks down a path which symbolized his ultimate doom.
A more important perhaps to the story is the way that Fortunato is dressed as a court jester during the carnival. As everyone knows, a court jester is someone who is the life of the court. He makes people laugh by making fun of other people. This costume symbolizes the very personality of Fortunato, which is the happy-go-lucky type of person who unfortunately, tends to say or do things that he may not realize slights those around him as what happened unknowingly between him and Montresor.
The story also makes good use of humor in the statement “Luchresi doesnt know Amontillado from a Sherry". It would seem that as far as the social circle that Fortunato and Montresor move in, Luchresi fancies himself a wine conneseiur although his actions betray him as a pretender. Hence the laughter and comedic intonation in the dialogue between the friends. However funny the statement is though, it is still considered by Montresor to be an additional slight upon his person since he believes Luchresi to be a man knowledgable about wines and sherrys.
Finally, we come to an analysis of the names and settings used by Poe in the story. I would like to begin with the discussion regarding his choice of the name Fortunato for his doomed character. It is truly ironic that the name Fortunato actually means a man blessed with good fortune in life. Fortunato met the exact opposite during his lifetime. Fortunato has only the worst of luck as he died a horrifying and secret death at the hands of the man he considered a trustworthy friend, Montresor.
Then we have the irony of the two settings used for the story, the carnival masquerade ongoing in the streets above the catacombs, and the catacombs itself. The streets that are alive with partying signify for me the innocence of Fortunato about the fate that awaited him later that night. It is truly ironic that he was wearing a mask during the celebration, just as his friend Montresor was. However, Montresor was wearing not only a physical mask but also a psychological one. In truth, Montresors life and way of thinking was as dark and horrible as the catacombs that he lured Fortunato into in order to kill him.
It is actually the streets of the party and the catacombs that give us the central theme of the story. The theme of revenge and murder. It also ironically shows us the state of mind of the 2 main characters, the happy Fortunato, and the devious Montresor. The party is a place of tom foolery and foolishness. Nothing is ever taken seriously when it happens at a party. However, Fortunato decides to take Montresor seriously on his offer to see the rare “Cask of Amontillado” and this is what leads to his death within the next few pages of the story. Read More
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