Edgar Allan Poe is not usually thought of in terms of humorous writing. His short story "The Cask of Amontillado" is not typically considered to be very humorous. However, this story, like many other stories by Poe, contains elements of humor, it just happens to be very dark humor.
Poe's use of irony creates a great deal of dark humor for the story. In this story there is humor to be found in Montresor's use of reverse psychology as he lures Fortunato to his death. The way he manipulates Fortunato through his pride and using Luchesi to anger Fortunato to blurt drunken insults and insist on continuing.
There is also ironic humor when Montresor produces the trowel and shows it to Fortunato as "a sign" of "the brotherhood" of The Masons. This is later used to erect the wall.
While Poe's narrative is sinister, there is a certain black humor in The Cask of Amontillado. Here are some examples:
- The unfortunate victim of Montresor's revenge is named Fortunato.
- Fortunato is dressed in harlequin, a foolishly appropriate suit for the position he holds.
- Against the feigned objections of Montresor, the coughing Fortunato continues through the catacombs, overriding the objections as he says in a way that amuses Montresor's twisted humor since he knows what will really happen:
"Enough...the cough is a mere nothing, it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough."
- After shackling Fortunato and walling him in, Montresor boasts that for fifty years no one has disturbed the place. With dark humor, he declares, "In pace requiescat." (Rest in peace.)
In addition to this black humor, there are puns, or plays on words, such as the one about Montresor being a "mason" as he means that, like a mason, he will build a wall about his victim. Another pun is on the word "De Grâve," the name of the wine that Fortunato drinks before going to his own grave in the catacombs.