What are three examples of dramatic irony in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

In "The Cask of Amontillado," dramatic irony occurs during the carnival scene when Montresor fabricates a story regarding the Amontillado wine. The reader knows that he is manipulating Fortunato, who is completely unaware of Montresor's evil intentions. Another example takes place when Montresor feigns concern for Fortunato's health and suggests that they leave the vaults. A third example takes place when Montresor toasts to Fortunato's long life. In each instance, Fortunato fails to recognize that Montresor is plotting his demise.

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In some ways, almost the entire story can be seen as an example of dramatic irony. This kind of irony is created when the reader or audience knows something that one or more characters do not. Montresor tells his audience immediately that he never threatened Fortunato but, rather, allowed the man to believe that he had no "cause to doubt [Montresor's] good will." Thus, we know a great deal more than Fortunato—that Montresor is actively plotting Fortunato's "immolation" for example—throughout almost the whole story.

When Montresor says that Fortunato is clearly busy and that he will go to see Luchesi instead, this creates dramatic irony because we know that Montresor has been searching for Fortunato specifically and will not seek out another local wine expert.

When Montresor explains that he had told his servants "not to stir from the house" and that he would not be home all night, he knows that this will "insure their immediate disappearance"; we know something that the servants don't, creating dramatic irony.

When Montresor says that the "gait of [his] friend was unsteady" due to alcohol, this creates dramatic irony because we know that he does not see Fortunato as a friend.

When Montresor offers Fortunato some Medoc as a "proper caution" against the cold and the nitre, we know that he is not actually concerned for Fortunato's health but is actually getting him drunk in order to manipulate him more easily.

In the end, however, one could argue that a different dramatic irony is created. Early on, Montresor said that one of his requirements for revenge is that he exact it with impunity, without incurring any negative consequences for himself. He now says that, when he went to fit the final brick into the wall that would imprison Fortunato, he "struggled with its weight." He has just erected an entire wall of these bricks, so it seems unlikely that he would just now struggle with one unless something else besides physical weakness were causing the struggle. Perhaps he feels guilty, making it hard to place the final brick.

After Montresor places the final brick, he says, "My heart grew sick—on account of the dampness." Again, though, the dampness hasn't bothered him this whole time, so why would it bother him now? Perhaps, again, his heart feels sick because his conscience is burdened by his deed. Further, the fact that he's telling this story some "half of a century" after the events could also indicate that he's been carrying around some guilt. If this is the case, then he has NOT achieved impunity—the burden of guilt is a negative consequence—and thus did not truly achieve his revenge, though he does not seem to realize this. Thus, dramatic irony is created here as well.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 3, 2020
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Dramatic irony occurs throughout Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" as Montresor cleverly manipulates his enemy Fortunato as part of his malicious revenge plot. One example of dramatic irony takes place when Montresor runs into Fortunato at the carnival and begins to manipulate his pride. Montresor fabricates a story regarding his recent purchase of the rare Amontillado and says that he is on his way to consult Luchesi about its authenticity. This is considered dramatic irony because the reader is aware that Montresor is playing on Fortunato's "weak point" while Fortunato has no clue that he is being manipulated. Fortunato thinks that Montresor is his friend, foolishly believes his story, and insists on following him to his family's catacombs.

Another example of dramatic irony takes place within the vaults when Fortunato begins to cough excessively. Montresor feigns concern for his health and begs him to return. Fortunato responds by commenting that his cough is nothing and says that he will not die of a cough. Montresor replies to Fortunato's comment by saying, "True—true." This is an example of dramatic irony because the reader knows that Montresor is not worried about Fortunato's health and plans on possibly murdering him. Fortunato is completely unaware of Montresor's malevolent intentions and believes that Montresor is being a sincere, concerned friend.

A third example of dramatic irony takes place shortly after Fortunato's coughing fit when he raises his drink and toasts to Montresor's deceased ancestors. Dramatic irony occurs when Montresor toasts to Fortunato's "long life." Once again, the reader is aware that Montresor wishes ill on Fortunato and plots his demise. However, Fortunato is too intoxicated and focused on tasting the Amontillado to recognize Montresor's evil intentions.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 3, 2020
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Dramatic irony occurs when characters in a story are unaware of things known by the reader, thereby creating suspense or humor. In the case of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," we know from the very first paragraph that Montresor, the narrator, seeks vengeance for the unspecified "thousand injuries" inflicted upon him by Fortunato. However, Fortunato remains blissfully oblivious to Montresor's malice until the end of the tale, meaning that many of the two characters' statements take on different meanings when viewed from the perspective of Fortunato or from the perspective of readers. Here are three examples:

When Montresor first brings up the cask, he tells Fortunato, "My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature." Fortunato accepts this compliment blindly, but readers know that Montresor is lying through his teeth.

Shortly thereafter, the two have this conversation:

"Enough," he said; "the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough."

"True—true," I replied . . .

Here, Montresor's agreement that the cough won't be fatal sounds to Fortunato like simple acknowledgement. Yet readers understand that Montresor knows the cough won't kill Fortunato, because Montresor plans to kill Fortunato long before the disease has time to turn deadly!

A third example occurs when Montresor describes his coat of arms, "A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel." Fortunato takes the statement at face-value as a factual description of the Montresor family crest. But readers know that Montresor believes that he represents the foot stomping upon the snake that is Fortunato, an inference supported by a Latin motto that translates to "no one attacks me with impunity." Moreover, in a second layer of irony, readers know that Montresor is obsessed and murderous. In all likelihood, they see Montresor, not Fortunato, as the treacherous serpent biting at the heel.

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