Irony in “The Cask of Amontillado”
Irony in “The Cask of Amontillado”
It is rare for a series of activities and statements in conversations to successively denote some different meanings of what is literally presented. In such cases, the real sense is not what it is on the surface.

However, the author of “The Cask of Amontillado” Edgar Allan Poe, presents a series of ironical actions and statements made by characters, and words and phrases said by them in the short story. A critical analysis of the stylistic device of irony in the “The Cask of Amontillado” affirms that verbal, dramatic, and situational irony has been used to bring drama to the work.

The first instance of irony utilized by the writer of the short illustration essay story is verbal irony. This stylistic device refers to the use of intentional or unintentional speech or statements that present a feigned meaning of the reality (Hamilton 114). The first example of verbal irony is exhibited in the phrase of Montressor, when he first met Fortunato at the carnival, “My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met” (Poe par 5). Certainly, one may think that the latter was lucky to have met the former that night. However, the statement is verbally ironical, because nothing good is waiting for Fortunato after the meeting, as Montressor intends to kill him. Second, the statement by Montressor, as they go deeper to the catacombs, “We will go back. Your health is precious,” does not imply his worry about Fortunato’s health as portrayed (Poe par 27). In reality, the situation is opposite as Montressor wants Fortunato to go further to the catacombs so that he can accomplish his plan. At this point, irony is driving the story forward.

Dramatic irony, which refers to a situation where a reader or some characters are aware of something that other the characters are not, is evident in the short story (Huckvale). Firstly, for instance, Montressor assuring Fortunato that the cough cannot kill him with the statement, ‘true--true,” exhibits dramatic irony (Poe par 44). The readers know that the former wants the latter dead, not in good health. Montressor knows this too. However, Fortunato does not have this knowledge. Secondly, Montressor’s response regarding his family motto “Nemo me impune lacessit” exhibits dramatic irony (Poe par 26). The reason for this is that the phrase means that no one can attack this character and remain unpunished (Ray 53). Therefore, Montressor and the readers know that he is out for revenge, but Fortunato does not. This instance of irony makes the story develop further.

Instances of situational irony are evident in the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” as hinted in the previous section. Gaunce defines situational irony as a situation when a character ends up doing something that both the other characters and the readers would not expect (477). The first instance is when Montressor ends up killing Fortunato, creating a surprise to both the readers and Fortunato. Montressor’s phrase, “I hastened to make an end of my labor. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up,” is proof that he finished his revenge by killing against the expectations of the readers as well as Fortunato, who hoped that Montressor would forgive his offender (Poe par 52). Second, the name “Fortunato” refers to someone lucky in all endeavors. However, the fate that befalls the character is surprising, because he loses his life in a very cruel way (Koperski). The phrase, “Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part, their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires” shows that Fortunato used to be lucky (Poe par 3). However, at the end, his fate is sad.

It has been established that the entire short story is characterized by numerous instances of irony. Numerous examples of situational, dramatic, and verbal irony have been exhibited in “The Cask of Amontillado”. Other writers have also affirmed that Poe’s short story is characterized by irony. Therefore, the drama exhibited by “the Cask of Amontillado” is a result of the elements of situational, verbal, and dramatic irony that the author has employed heavily.