Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a heart-stopping short story full of intricate themes and lessons for readers across the globe. Edgar Allan Poe's amazing utilization of Gothicism inside the story sets the ideal tone for a dim and vile plot of murder to unfurl, setting the overall theme of revenge.
One of the main indirect factors that could contribute to Montresor’s vengeful act, and thus the story’s theme of revenge, is the short story’s social class aspects and how they relate to both Montresor and Fortunato. At this period in time, Fortunato is a dominant and affluent man in society. This is evident when Montresor states that Fortunato “was a man to be respected and even feared.” Montresor, on the other hand, does not appear to be as affluent as Fortunato. Poe does suggest, however, that Montresor might have once been of the highest social status, perhaps of even more importance than Fortunato himself (Baraban). This can be seen when Montresor says to Fortunato, “You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as once I was. You are a man to be missed” (Poe 1613). Further evidence of Montresor’s former prominent social status can be interpreted by the immensity of the catacombs that house his ancestors. By comparing both Fortunato’s and Montresor’s social status, it can be inferred that even though Fortunato is of higher status than Montresor in the present, Montresor’s former status far outweighs that of Fortunato’s. With this situation in mind, the fact that Fortunato, a lower class individual, insults Montresor causes him to feel the need for revenge. Even though Montresor is not presently at the great status that he and his ancestors once were, he still feels the need to defend their honor and his own against such an insult as Fortunato has made (Baraban).
While Poe’s sophisticated use of direct and indirect factors clearly contributes to the theme of revenge in “The Cask of Amontillado,” his clever use of irony in the short story also helps contribute to this atmosphere of retribution. Edgar Allan Poe uses two types of irony, one being dramatic, and the other, verbal irony. Dramatic irony is a situation in which a character in the story is completely unaware of a concept that the reader has discerned (Womack). The most obvious and frequently used illustration of dramatic irony in “The Cask of Amontillado” is that the reader has discerned from Montresor’s narration that he plans to kill Fortunato, and Fortunato is completely unaware of this act of vengeance. This can be seen when Montresor greets Fortunato for the first time (Tolman). Montresor states, “I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand,” (Poe 1612). While Fortunato interprets this vigorous handshake as Montresor’s delight in their friendship, the reader has discerned that Montresor’s true excitement does not come from their friendship at all but from his...