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Foreshadowing is a major and effective technique used by Edgar Allan Poe in his famous short story “The Cask of Amontillado.” Often the foreshadowing is combined with a kind of dark irony. Among examples of such foreshadowing are the following:
- The opening paragraph of the story opens with Montresor’s announcement that because Fortunato has injured him, Montresor vows both revenge and punishment. Practically everything about this paragraph involves ironic foreshadowing of some sort. Thus, Fortunato will later prove most unfortunate; Montresor will indeed accomplish the revenge he vows to achieve; and that revenge will be punishing in a particularly horrific way.
- The third paragraph mentions Fortunato’s love of wine, thus foreshadowing the method by which Montresor will entice Fortunato into an underground wine vault.
- The story is set at dusk, thus foreshadowing the literal and symbolic darkness that will grow as the story proceeds.
- Montresor refers to the “supreme madness of the carnival season,” thus ironically and symbolically foreshadowing the supreme madness of his own later highly effective plot.
- Montresor mentions that Fortunato has been “drinking much,” thus foreshadowing the drunkenness that will allow Montresor to deceive Fortunato so easily.
- Fortunato tells Montresor that the latter has been “imposed upon,” not realizing that Montresor will later “impose upon” Fortunato himself in a much more serious way.
- When Montresor and Fortunato reach Montresor’s house, Montresor notes to himself (and us) that
There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.
This passage foreshadows (1) the privacy Montresor will enjoy as he disposes of Fortunato; (2) the contrast between carnival season and the horrific death Montresor will impose on Fortunato; (3) Montresor’s cleverness in manipulating the behavior of other people (including Fortunato); and (4) Montresor’s ability to take advantage of the flaws of other people (including Fortunato).
In short, the story is brimming with ironic foreshadowing, and anyone who reads the story more than once can see how artfully it uses this technique.
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