Literary Analysis of the Cask of Amontillado

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Literary Analysis of the Cask of Amontillado

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Literary Analysis of the Cask of Amontillado

‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe is an interesting short story that significantly shows proper application of literary devices. Edgar Allan Poe is a famous literature author not only in the field of short stories but also in writing poems and essays. ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is the author’s last and greatest short stories that were published in 1846. It is a story that dramatically touches the society as it involves vengeance, murder, addiction and torment primarily set in a large Italian underground cemetery. The reader sees it a voyage from the dark and enigmatic vacations of human inner self. The characterization in the text is excellent as the author brings a clear image of the characters and their traits in developing the story. Poe appropriately makes use of literary devices such as symbolism and imagery among others in building the plot and themes in the short story as elaborated into a profound extend below.

The author composes unique traits in his literary work which plays a significant role in attracting reader’s attention and creating suspense. For instance, regarding the short story The Cask of Amontillado at the climax the reader is left wondering about the bricks and the significance of building the wall. The narrator tells the story in first in the first person up to the end. The main cast of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ includes Fortunato, Montresor and Luchesi. The characters play a significant role in creating the plot and bringing out the principal theme. The story is about the crisis between the narrator and Fortunato who has insulted him. The narrator has the urge to doing revenge (Foy, page 45).

Looking at the plot analysis of the short story, the author has appropriately established it in the relation of other literary devices. He has efficiently used the fundamental constituents that makes literature work the plot complete and thought-provoking. These elements bring a natural flow of the story starting from the preliminary state of affairs, conflict, tricky situation, climax, suspense, completion of the conclusion. In the initial situation, the narrator brings about an insult and a vow of revenge. Characterization brings about the whole thing regarding the beginning of the story. It is through Fortunato’s unattractive traits that lead to his act of insulting Montresor. The narrator has a sympathetic character as he has forgiven the colleague for sometimes, but it comes to the extent that Montresor cannot hold that anymore thus the urge of doing revenge.

The conflict of the short story comes as the two characters the narrator and Fortunato are in a struggle to make things work out in the right way forever. For Montresor to avenge the insult by Fortunato, he has to get a worthy way to do it in such that there will be no capability of Fortunato revenging back. If it happens so, he would be the winner and has accomplished his mission. The punishment must have a practical impact that Fortunato will have to feel and undoubtedly know that it has come from the narrator. It is through the narrator’s avenging trait that the conflict of the story is evident. Moving a step forward to the complication of the short story, the author has put it in a natural way considering that there are no much of it manifested. Montresor carefully makes go a clue of what is happening through other characters the Amontillado and Luchesi. It led to Fortunato insisting on going after Montresor down into the subversive cemetery of his worst bad dreams. Montresor plays with him and lures him. However, Fortunato did not have any intention of turning back up to a situation when it was very late.

The climax of the story is the most significant part that one can refer the characters trapped in a conveniently man-sized world. This is the most massive and most crucial instant of the Poe’s story. It is evident as Montresor comes with Luchesi and his rival Fortunato is not pleased with the act. Fortunato refers Luchesi as a completely ignorant person and thriving one. Fortunato is chained in the upright casket in the foulest depths of the underground cemetery. Later the suspense in the story is created by the act of building brick by brick. Going into Fortunato’s situation, there is a significant suspense created by Montresor’s deeds. The actions of Montresor bricking Fortunato leaves him unaware of what will happen next to him to whether it is a complete joke or a dangerous thing. The putting of the final brick brings the termination of the story, and the suspense is resolved. Montresor is merciless and does not care even about hearing the pleading ringing of Fortunato’s bell. It was guaranteed that after the air in the tiny brick casket is thoroughly used up, Fortunato will be demised. The conclusion of short story’s plot helps the reader to have a perspective of looking back what happens and at what time did this happen. In the second last line of the story, it is clear that the story was the action of Montresor killing Fortunato occurred about fifty years ago (Gale, page 13). The bold thing at the end the story that the reader comes to know is that Montresor gets away from the crime he committed.

Furthermore, the short story’s themes have a significant effect on the literary analysis effectiveness. The major themes found in Poe’s story include betrayal, mortality, drugs and alcohol, freedom and confinement and foolishness and folly. The themes build the whole plot of the short story and are also significant in talking about the issues affects the society in today’s life. To begin with the theme of freedom and confinement, the difference between the two words is openly brought out in the story. For one character to have freedom and rejoice another one must be confined or die. It is shown with the act of Montresor killing Fortunato as a way of avenging for the assaults. The large part of the story happens in enormous and incredibly mistakes that could have been avoided there is togetherness and cohesion among the involved characters.

Secondly, betrayal brings about the main action in the story The Cask of Amontillado. It is because of one character’s betrayal that there is a revolting sequence of vengeance, seen underground in the mass grave. Betrayal is the core reason for the act of revenging and death. For instance, the insulting and threatening of Fortunato can be referred as a betrayal as Montresor gave him a chance of changing the behavior as it was expected but it was in vain. Taking a real-life example in today’s society, the same incidences are evident as people betray others resulting in enmity and death to a greater extent. The same the plays an essential role in building the plot of the story and developing other literary devices.

The other theme seen in the story is about drugs and alcohol. The commonly seen drug used in the story is wine. At the beginning of the Poe’s story, Fortunato is met drunk by Montresor as he plans to do the revenge. It can be the primary reason for Fortunato having the urge of using an abusive language as drugs at many instances result in the judgement impairment. All through the story drugs are mingling in between the lines and can be referred to anything that the character tends to use in acquiring their desires. Also, the theme of mortality is major in Poe’s short story and can be considered as a foreshadowing and illumination of was going to happen next in his life. The Cask of Amontillado is the author’s last short story before his death composes vast, terrifying fixation on bones, dead body and demise. The story can be seen as an illumination of the life after deceased and can be an explanation of what he has passed through in life. It facilitates the development of imagery as the reader is capable of building the exact picture in mind. For instance, on how Montresor was planning to revenge, how he was putting brick by brick on the casket and how Fortunato suffered as the casket run out of the air (Poe, page 21).

Additionally, the theme of foolishness and folly is significant, and the author postulates it effectively. It is through foolishness and recklessness that cost one’s life. For instance, it was Fortunato’s folly that resulted in his death. If the character had respect amongst other people, all would have worked well to him as such an instance of insulting would not have happened. The story is wholly about the about how foolishness and folly lead to hideous and cruel immoralities. ”The Cask of Amontillado” has two characters brings about the conflict and central matter in the story which are Montresor and Fortunato. By the end of the story, their joint ridiculousness terminates in misfortune and severe suffering for them both. The tragedy seen is core thing that takes the readers mind making one think more intensely about their silly ways. It is metaphorical as one sarcastically suffers due to foolishness like these characters. It is a moral lesson to the reader that prudence is vital in humans and facilitates to a better living with others.

It the story, Poe profoundly make use of symbolism, allegory and imagery. In The Cask of Amontillado, everything is symbolic and different things can be seen representing various meaning. To begin with is the coat of arms belonging to the Montresor’s family which is a picture of the shield. On it, there is a giant foot which the author refers to as wild a crazy serpent. This signifies that Fortunato is a snake on the glass which bits Montresor and on the other hand as a result of Montresor reactions his big gold foot crashed him down. The court of arms has a fabricated color which represents darkness and death of Fortunato. Through allegory that the theme of drug and alcohol is build up in the story. The author’s life was in captivity of drugs which had addicted him for a long while. One of the drugs he was addicted to was laudanum that comes from puppies that are obviously blue. This brings irony regarding freedom that is illustrated in the theme of freedom and confinement.

The tone of every literature work is vital in attracting the reader’s attention and making the story enjoyable. In this story, the author appropriately develops its tone regarding the settings and its composition. The tone of the story can be expressed as spine-chilling, humorous and elegant. Montresor refers to the mounds of the bones and the human remains as elegant making it sound somehow lovely. Hos he expresses the seemingly of the underground cemetery makes one see it as a beautiful place to be even though scaring. The humorous tone is also seen in large parts of the story. The jokes are to a greater extent entertaining breaking monotony in the short story. It can at some point make the reader contented thinking that everything happening for a moment is all right. Before Fortunato’s suffering and death, one is happy as everything seems to be doing on well and one is after that left guilty after the death (Saxton, page 38).

The settings of the short story can to an extent be viewed as awful and disgusting which can grab readers thoughts making one expects a horror and traumatizing experience. The Cask of Amontillado is all through acted on the underground cemetery during the carnival season in a particular place in Italy. The author purposely uses horror in the setting mainly with the aim of expressing either freedom or confinement in a contradicting way as the characters in various occasions’ shows imprisonment and liberty. The carnival festive and Montresor’s family underground grave are clear and directly illustrates the purpose of the story. During the Carnival festival, the Italians were celebrating their freedom, and people all over have happiness. The two main characters Montresor and Fortunato at the beginning of the story are seen participating in the same festival. Furthermore, as they both move deeper into the underground cemetery, they pass through smaller and fouler spaces. It signifies that as they move into the grave, they were going further away from the fresh air and freedom.

As seen from the above discussion, it is at the end of the story that the author reveals the name of the narrator who is Montresor and was a member of Montresor’s family. The narrator finally alters may he rest in peace which one is not sure whether he meant the words or not. At first, he is postulated as a person with human traits, and one could not expect that he was to avenge through murder. The trait would have played a significant effect making him feel sorry for his deeds. In the community the same occasions are evident, and it is a great lesson showing the repercussions of the evil actions people take in the name of revenge. The author is competent and has correctly applied literary devices in developing the story The Cask of Amontillado. The story is educative, and it does not only plays a vital role in entertaining the reader but also giving precautions of one to be cautious of the expected result in every act.


Foy, Roslyn Reso, and William E. Lambo. “Freemasonry, the Brethren, and the Twists of Edgar Allan Poe in THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO.” The Explicator 73.4 (2015): 252-256.

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Edgar Allan Poe’s” Cask of Amontillado”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.

Poe, E. A. (2016). The cask of amontillado. The Floating Press.

Saxton, Audrey. “The Devil’s in the Details: A Characterization of Montresor in Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”.” Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism 10.1 (2017): 16.

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