THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO: SYMBOLISM AND IRONY

The Montresor Family Crest and Motto
The crest shows a heal smashing a serpent’s head as the serpent sinks its fangs into the heel. It is symbolic of what happens to Fortunato. Fortunato has wounded Montresor’s pride in some way. Fortunato is the snake biting the heel. Montresor kills Fortunato in a most diabolical manner. Montresor is the heel crushing the snake.
The Niter
There are several references to the niter in the story, including: “but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.” Montresor is like the spider, about to trap Fortunato in his “web.”
Fortunato’s Name
Fortunato means “fortunate” in Italian, an ironic name for someone who is about to be walled up in the catacombs.
Fortunato’s Outfit
He was dressed in carnival garb and wore “motley” with a conical cap and bells. He was dressed as a fool or clown. This is a symbolic representation of what he was.
Montresor’s Name
In French, “Montressor” means “my treasure.” His treasure was the secret of his perfect revenge against Fortunato.
Montresor’s Outfit
Montresor wears a roquelaire, a long, heavy cape that he uses to envelope Fortunato in as they head towards his palazzo. It seems like a friendly gesture but is, in reality, symbolic of Montresor’s ‘capturing’ of Fortunato.
The Setting
The “supreme madness of the carnival season” represents the supreme madness of the narrator’s mind. The freedom and abandon of the carnival atmosphere is contrasted with the confinement of the catacombs and, eventually, of Fortunato himself. It’s about feeling free as opposed to feeling trapped.
The Title: The Cask of Amontillado
The word “cask,” a sturdy cylindrical container for storing liquids, and the word “casket,” have the same root. The relationship between the two represents the way in which Montresor tricks Fortunato down to the catacombs and then eventually into what will become his walled-in casket. The Amontillado represents the causes of Fortunato’s demise.

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