Before you read my clever introduction, here’s a Cask of Amontillado quotations writing assignment: Quotations Writing Assignment for Cask of Amontillado
THE thousand lesson plans of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon teaching “The Cask of Amontillado” themes without quotes from “The Cask of Amontillado,” I vowed revenge. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled –but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only create my own “Cask of Amontillado” theme analysis with quotes from ‘The Cask of Amotillado, but I must share it with everyone in the school not named Fortunato and then lure him into the janitor’s closet with a promise of help with “Cask of Amontillado” themes.
Then when he least suspects it, I’ll tie him up with mop heads and build a wall of Lysol bottles so nobody will ever find him.
So whatever you do, don’t share these “Cask of Amontillado” theme quotes with Fortunato.
Quote: “His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.”
Theme: The Effects of Alcohol: The Illusion of Freedom
Analysis: Fortunato’s alcohol binge during Carnival has “freed” him from his inhibition as indicated by his behavior. What his alcohol binge has actually done is lead him to his death. Fortunato’s heavy drinking has blurred his judgment and his overwhelming desire for the Amontillado compounds the bad judgment.
Quote: “A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite.”
Theme: The Effects of Alcohol(ism): The Loss of Freedom
Analysis: Fortunato’s weakness for alcohol has doomed him. After being fettered to the granite, Fortunato no longer has control of his fate. Ironically, Fortunato is too stunned to realize it, much in the same way those with alcohol and drug problems are unable to see their “imprisonment.”
Quote: “Come,” I said, with decision, “we will go back; your health is precious.”
Theme: Stupid Choices/The Loss of Agency and Freedom
Analysis: There are several instances when Fortunato is free to choose a different path. Fortunato, however, has been enslaved by his desire for alcohol and no longer has the freedom to resist.
Quote: “THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.”
Analysis: What a great start to a great story. The “insult” is never specified. This might perhaps be because it doesn’t matter or one might speculate that the insult might seem minor to the listener. One thing is certain: We’re about to be treated to a tale of revenge. Montresor attempts to make himself look good, having withstood “the thousand injuries of Fortunato.”
Quote: “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”
Analysis: Montresor establish his criteria for successful revenge. I wrote about that in a brilliant blog post.
Quote: “My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so.”
Analysis: So, let’s get this straight: Montresor has buried alive another human being, a friend, on account of an unnamed insult. And his heart grows sick, a natural reaction, I suppose, one might have after burying another human being alive—oh wait, “it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so.” OK.
Quote: “In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack–but in the matter of old wines he was sincere.”
Theme: Truth vs. Reality
Analysis: It’s hard to take anyone seriously who makes negative generalized statements about an entire race of people. Calling all Italians quacks makes Montresor look petty and unreliable. There’s a good chance Fortunato was actually more skilled tan Montresor at these things. There’s also a good chance this entire story is a lie.
Quote: The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells.
Analysis: Montresor has taken his revenge well beyond the confines of a walled up room in a catacomb. He wastes no opportunity to make Fortunato look like a fool, including his ridiculous attire. Montresor also spends the entire narrative showing the listener just how clever his actions were.
Quote: “I said to him –“My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.””
Theme: Flattery is of the devil.
Analysis: Montresor uses flattery and reverse psychology throughout in order to lure Fortunato to his death. Not the first time a man has used flattery to lead someone on. There are other images that make Montresor seem diabolic, like the torches, the robes, the fact they’re wandering about underground tombs.Share This:
Examples of Irony in "The Cask of Amontillado"
Fortunato means fortunate in Italian, an ironic name for someone about to be walled up in the catacombs.
Montresor's behavior toward Fortunato is described as follows: "It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation."
Montresor's first words to Fortunato are "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met." Fortunato thinks Montresor means he is happy to see him because of his expertise. What Montresor means is the meeting is lucky because the carnival presents an excellent time for murder.
Montresor's continued efforts to talk Fortunato out of coming with him only serve to excite the latter and encourage his coming.
Montresor's instructions to his servants demonstrate his mastery of human psychology: "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."
Fortunato exclaims, "I will not die of a cough." Montresor responds, "true." It appears to be a hopeful statement. It's actually a wicked statement. He then drinks to Fortunato's "long life," which Montresor soon ends.
The conversation regarding the Masons demonstrates an ironic misunderstanding: Fortunato refers to the Masonic order, a secret society of brothers; Montresor pulls out a trowel, a reference to bricklayers. In that respect, Montresor is a mason.
Fortunato's last words before being chained to the rock are "he [Luchesi] is an ignoramus." In reality, Fortunato is the ignoramus, a chained-to-the-wall ignoramus.
Montresor's reaction to the crime he commits is described as follows: "My heart grew sick -- on account of the dampness of the catacombs." His heart grows sick on account of the weather, not because he just buried a man alive. That's ironic.
This article is meant to be a starting point to your own research and analysis. Did you find more examples of symbolism and irony in the text? Feel free to share in the comments.