The Cask of Amontillado Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

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Irony In The Cask Of Amontillado

In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," what are some examples of irony—and to what purpose does Poe use them?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," there are several examples of irony. When Montresor explains that revenge is not good enough, but that the victim must know he is being punished, Montresor never explains his actions to his victim, so essentially Fortunato dies without ever knowing why.

I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

We might find some irony in that Fortunato becomes increasingly more drunk. As a...

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There are several different ways that Poe creates irony in his short story The Cask of Amontillado. Irony can be defined as "the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning." Poe uses irony in his text to express the opposite of what is expected.

One example can be found in the way he names his characters. The protagonist (and narrator) is named Montresor. We receive no further information about him than that. The person upon whom Montresor seeks revenge is named Fortunato. Fortunato is the Italian variation of the word "lucky" or "fortunate." Fortunato, ironically is not fortunate due to his fate by the end of the story. By naming him something that is synonymous with good things, Poe creates ironic tension for this character by instead having him get murdered- possibly the worst thing that could happen to him in the story.

Additionally, Poe establishes irony using the setting of the story. The climax of the story takes place during a Carnival. Carnivals are, traditionally, seen as festive gatherings filled with joy. Ironically, it is during this gathering that Montresor lures Fortunato down into the Catacombs of the city to exact his revenge. While a party is raging above, a murder is taking place below, the opposite of what is normally expected.