In "The Cask of Amontillado," what is ironic about the setting of the carnival?

The irony of the carnival setting is that it is supposed to be a joyful, friendly environment but is actually a hostile, dangerous place for Fortunato. While people celebrate, drink, and party with their friends, Montresor lures in his intoxicated victim. The chaotic, hectic setting also allows Montresor to interact with Fortunato without being noticed.

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In Poe's classic short story "The Cask of Amontillado," the irony of the carnival setting concerns the fact that a sinister act is taking place in such a happy, carefree setting. The carnival was a time of revelry, drunkenness, and delight when people would dress up in costumes and have fun. Fortunato certainly enjoys the carnival season and is dressed as a jester with a conical cap and bells. Similar to his peers and the rest of the community, Fortunato is carefree and intoxicated. He is not concerned about Montresor and does not anticipate any trouble. He even greets Montresor with a hug and insists on verifying whether or not the Amontillado is authentic.
However, the reader knows that Montresor is plotting his demise and puts his evil plan in motion during the "supreme madness of the carnival season." Poe creates irony by initially setting the story during the joyful, chaotic carnival season, which catches the reader off guard. One would expect a murder story to take place in a dark, Gothic setting instead of a happy, light-hearted environment. Poe eventually transforms the setting when Montresor leads Fortunato into the depth of his family's dark catacombs, which creates an eerie, unsettling mood. Overall, the irony of the carnival setting concerns the fact that such a sinister act is taking place in such a happy, carefree setting.
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There are several ironic elements in the story, which include Fortunato's name, his outfit, and the lively setting. The story is set during the Italian carnival season, which is a festive time of year when citizens celebrate, drink alcohol, and party with their neighbors. The setting is similar to Mardi Gras, where people gather to enjoy themselves and let loose. It is in this pleasant, joyful setting when Montresor preys upon his victim and successfully lures Fortunato back to his home, where he fulfills his revenge plot.

The setting is ironic because Fortunato is in serious danger in such a delightful, friendly environment. While people laugh, joke, and enjoy themselves during the carnival, Fortunato lets his guard down at the most inopportune time. The carefree, safe environment is ironically dangerous and hostile, which is what makes Fortunato's situation more terrifying and Montresor's actions more disturbing. The "supreme madness" of the carnival season and Montresor's black outfit offer him protection. In the chaotic, hectic setting, Montresor is able to go unnoticed.

Nobody would remember Montresor being present during the carnival, and Fortunato's friends would think he simply disappeared. Fortunato is dressed in motley, believes that Montresor is harmless, and does not suspect a thing, which is why the audience pities him and sympathizes with his character. Fortunato is also visibly intoxicated, which makes him more susceptible to Montresor's plot. Tragically, Fortunato falls for Montresor's artifice and experiences a terrible death.

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With the gaiety all around him in the setting of the Carnival (Italy's version of Mardi Gras), Montesor plots his evil act of vengeance against the also ironically named Fortunato.  Of course, there is a sharp contrast between the backdrop of frolicking, happy drinking, laughter, and revelry and the sinister, duped, drunkard passage of unsuspecting Fortunato as he enters the catacombs of the family of Montesor only to be victimized in a horrific manner. As he wears the harlequin patterns of a court jester, or fool,  there lies another irony:  Fortunato's clothing reflects his last role in life.  Indeed, he is made a fool of as he is lured to his untimely death.

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The story is set during the carnival season around Mardi Gras, just before Lent. It is a festive occasion where people have parties, parades and celebrate life. The irony of the setting is that Montresor is planning on murdering Fortunato, something that Fortunato would definitely not find amusing. But is does set up the contrast between the two characters in the story. One can see Montresor is a very dark, brooding and bitter individual who has remembered some rude remark of Fortunato for so long that he has masterfully planned his death. Fortunato, however, seems to be a rather trusting baffoon interested more in fun and wine than his own safety. Thus the irony of having Fortuanto lose his life during the biggest party of the year.

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The carnival was a time of great merry-making, partying, costumes, revelry, drunkenness, and mirth.  To be plotting someone's demise amidst all of that is most unexpected.  You would expect such a creepy tale of revenge to immediately start off with the more appropriate setting of the cliche "dark and stormy night", not at a happy festival of people.  So, the irony exists in the fact that that setting is almost the exact opposite of where they end up, and of what Montresor's dark mind and plans are.

It works well in the fact that first of all, Fortunado is dressed up in a ridiculous costume, with a jingle-bell hat on.  It makes his end a bit more pitiful; Montresor pokes and prods in the hole only to hear a few jingles of bells at the end.  It is a comical tragedy, almost, to picture Fortunado in that completely unsuited outfit at his death.  Also, because of the carnival, all of Montresor's servants "had absconded to make merry in honour of the time", so there were no witnesses to him bringing Fortunado into the catacombs.  Very lucky indeed.  Then, because of the carnival, Fortunado is drunk, which makes Montresor's plan that much easier; he is more willing to follow, less alarmed, a bit hazy, and doesn't quite get what is going on fast enough.  So although the carnival is quite ironic for the morbid tale about to unfold, it works very much in Montresor's favor.

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