illustration of Fortunato standing in motley behind a mostly completed brick wall with a skull superimposed on the wall where his face should be

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe
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How is dramatic and verbal irony used to foreshadow Fortunato's eventual demise in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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Dramatic and verbal irony are both used to foreshadow Fortunato's eventual demise. Dramatic irony occurs when readers know something that a character or characters in a piece of literature does not. In "A Cask of Amontillado," Montresor tells us that he has long planned to revenge himself on Fortunato and...

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Dramatic and verbal irony are both used to foreshadow Fortunato's eventual demise. Dramatic irony occurs when readers know something that a character or characters in a piece of literature does not. In "A Cask of Amontillado," Montresor tells us that he has long planned to revenge himself on Fortunato and also informs us that he has been very careful not to let Fortunato know he is angry with him. This is dramatic irony, as we as readers know that something bad is going to happen to Fortunato when he goes with Montresor into the catacombs, while Fortunato is completely unaware of the danger. Our suspense builds because we don't know what will happen, just that it will be unfortunate for Fortunato.

Verbal irony occurs when words mean the opposite of their literal meaning. Verbal irony is close to sarcasm, as when you say to a friend "good job" when they have just fallen down.

Montresor uses verbal irony when he tells Fortunato he is a mason. Fortunato thinks Montresor means he is a member of the Freemasons, a secret society Fortunato belongs to. However, what Montresor means, foreshadowing what is soon to occur, is that he is going to become literally a mason (a bricklayer) when he walls Fortunato up alive in the catacombs. Fortunato's name is also an example of irony, as his life turns out to be the opposite of fortunate.

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