Why is the supreme madness of the carnival season an appropriate setting for "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Edgar Allan Poe's choice of the decadence and "supreme madness of the carnival season" seems to fit perfectly with Montresor's murder plot: His reasons for killing, the unnamed "Thousand injuries of Fortunato," border on madness. Montresor knows that Fortunato will probably be inebriated and, indeed, "he had been drinking much;" Fortunato's inhibitions will be compromised, and his reasoning will be muddled from the alcohol. The carnival also gives Montresor the perfect reason to clear his home of servants: He has told them that he will be out for the evening, knowing that they will leave their duties and participate in the festivities once they know Montresor is gone. Fortunato is in disguise, making him less identifiable to anyone who may see the two men meet. For Poe, who dresses Fortunato as a fool--a court jester--it presents an element of irony to the story that could not exist at another time. Montresor also knows that Fortunato will be revelling in the carnival festivities instead of being at home with the Lady Fortunato, making his plan for sampling the rare Amontillado more viable.