Revenge Can't be Sweet Forever
Amidst the dark and gloomy pathways of the catacombs there now lies a freshly killed body. In the ironic short story The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe, the narrator, Montresor, seeks the pleasure of taking out revenge and living without the consequences. However, Montresor's plan of punishing with impunity doesn't work. The beginning of the story takes place at a carnival, but Montresor seduces Fortunato, his enemy, down into the catacombs to take out his master plan of revenge. With the use of irony, Edgar Allen Poe shows us the regret that follows revenge. Through the beginning, middle, and end of Montresor's plan, Montresor isn't aware of the regret that could take over his soul.
First, Poe describes the revenge that Montresor wants to take upon Fortunato, and the first hints of irony appear in the story. For example, one of the first characters in the story is Fortunato, whose name translates to fortunate. With the name Fortunato, the reader would think that he would be quite a fortunate man, but it is exactly the opposite, as the story ends with his life being taken from him. Fortunato probably thinks of himself as fortunate, which attributes to the fact that he is gullible enough to go down into the catacombs with Montresor in the first place. Another example of irony is the setting in which the story takes place. As Montresor says, It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend, which reveals that the setting above the catacombs (where Montresor takes out his revenge on Fortunato) is a carnival (210-211). Carnivals are usually very happy and celebratory occasions, but the irony of this is that the outcome of the story is not happy at all. The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge, says Montresor (210). He explains the many pains that Fortunato has caused him in the past, and how he must get revenge. He is so wrapped up in these injuries that he does not even think about what could happen if he does something that makes him regret that he did it later.
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Second, Poe shows us the irony that comes with Montresor's whole plan. Montresor decides to take Fortunato down to the catacombs, a dark and gloomy area underground where many dead bodies lay, to kill him. He tells Fortunato that they are going to get a bottle of Amontillado, a wine, while he has a different plan in mind. One of the main examples of irony in this story is the way that Montresor treats Fortunato on their way down to the catacombs. When Fortunato feels sick, Montresor says Come, we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was.(211). The twisted and crazy mind of Montresor actually gives Fortunato a chance to go back, but he knows the stubborn mind of Fortunato won't take the choice. Once they finally get down to the catacombs they open the wine and Fortunato says I drink to the buried that repose around us, and Montresor says, And I to your long life. The very ironic part in this is that Fortunato actually has a very short life, as it will end very soon. This also foreshadows what will happen next in the story, and it gives the reader a big clue of the full plot.
Third, Poe shows us the regret that necessarily follows revenge through Montresor, and the irony that happens to be in it. As Montresor continues his plan of revenge, Fortunato starts getting more clues about the outcome of their little trip down to the catacombs, but he still thinks it is a joke. Even when Montresor locks him up, Fortunato still thinks it is a joke. Montresor explains, It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, ninth and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and eleventh; there remained but a single stoned to be fitted and plastered in. 'Ha! Ha! Ha! - He! He! He! - a very good joke indeed- a excellent jest,' says Fortunato (214). As Montresor takes his last stab at revenge by killing Fortunato, Fortunato doesn't understand what is going on until the shock of what is actually happening goes through him, and he dies. Until now, Montresor has not realized the regret that he would get from taking a human's life. My heart grew sick- on account of the dampness of the catacombs, he says (215). We can infer that the shock hit him, too, and that he now actually understands the regret that can come from revenge.
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The Cask of Amontillado is a powerful tale of regret and revenge, with a hint of irony thrown in at any point possible by the author, Edgar Allen Poe. Montresor, the devilish narrator, has a plan to take revenge on an acquaintance, Fortunato. Poe adds in numerous amounts of irony in the story, which allow the reader to think and wonder what might happen next. From the very beginning, to the very end of the story, we see examples of this. Insults typically serve as a means for payback; however, revenge doesn't come without consequences. Even though Montresor wants to dispose of all of Fortunato's insults and injuries, he only ends up causing a bigger pool of guilt for himself to dive into.