The Cask of Amontillado

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Foreshadowing and Irony in E.A Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”

MOTIVATION: Can you think of a movie where the screenwriter gives you some clues to suggest what is going to happen or who the villain in the story is? It may be the music or a facial expression from a character that gives you a clue. The screenwriter helps the viewer predict what is going to happen. Poe also gives the reader clues in his writing of what is going to happen.

PROCEDURE: Poe chooses the words in his story very carefully. The title of the story and the main characters’ names were not given by accident. Many times the words or phrases he used gave the reader a clue of what was to follow. He also used double meanings of words to lead to his sarcastic humor. Analyze the following lines or scenes from the story. The choice of words can have a tremendous impact on the story. Poe’s descriptive writing and play on words is what makes his stories able to be read on many different levels.

·        I continued as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile NOW was at the thought of his immolation.

Foreshadowing- Montresor smiles in Fortunato’s face as he is thinking about killing him.

·        The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells.

Irony- Fortunato comes to the carnival dress like a fool. He is taken for a fool by going after the amontillado, which leads him to his death.

·         I said to him -- "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to day!

Irony- Montresor comments how lucky they are to meet. By this chance meeting Montressor’s plan of revenge begins to take form. Although Fortunato looks good now, he will be dead by the end of the day.

·         I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.

Irony & Foreshadowing- It is ironic that he cautions him going down the stairs when he is planning to kill him shortly. The descending to the catacombs is a foreshadowing of Fortunato’s fate.

·         “Come," I said, with decision, we will go back; 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. We will go back; you will be ill and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi"

Irony & Foreshadowing – Montresor tells Fortunato to go back that his health is precious and that he will be missed if something should happen to him. Yet Montresor is plotting his death.

The quote “you are happy as I once was” is a foreshadowing of the revenge that is about to be inflicted.

·         "The cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough." "True -- true," I replied

Irony & Foreshadowing –Poe shows his sarcastic humor here. It is ironic that Fortunato brings up the topic of dying. He will not die from the cough but by Montresor’s revengeful plan.

·        “I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us."

"And I to your long life”

Irony – The toast to the dead around them and to Fortunato’s long life is another sarcastic play on words knowing that Fortunato’s life will be over shortly.

·         "Nemo me impune lacessit."

Irony –The motto on Montresor’s coat of arms is translated from Latin meaning: "No one injures (attacks) me with consequences” It is because of Fortunato’s insults or verbal attacks that Montresor is killing him

·        Once more let me IMPLORE you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you.

Foreshadowing- He begs him to leave one last time and then states that he will leave him for good.

·         “Let us be gone." "Yes," I said, "let us be gone."

Irony – Fortunato states “let us be gone” meaning lets go back to the carnival the joke is over. Montresori states “let us be gone” meaning your death is approaching.

·         The Cask of Amontillado-TITLE

The title of the story is also a play on words for it is this cask, which leads him to casket.

·         Fortunato – Name of main character

Fortunato’s name means Fortunate, which he is anything but. 

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