The Cask of Amontillado Symbolism

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Edgar Alan Poe is known as the father of short stories, his works are known for their dark or mysterious nuances or even blatant overtones. Edgar Alan Poe frequently uses foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony in his stories. All three of these literary elements are particularly prevalent in his story “The Cask of Amontillado”. analyze, examine and interpret The cask of Amontillado is a very descriptive narrative. Edgar Alan Poe uses these descriptions and foreshadowing to engage the reader and to help create a setting and establish the overall mood of the story. One major example of foreshadowing that people seem to pick up on, especially after reading through the story is that the word “cask” in the title is the same root as “casket”. This correlation immediately hints to the reader that the story involves or ends in death.

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So, as this source puts it “Although Fortunato seeks a cask of Amontillado, he finds instead a casket of death” (shmoop). The setting and mood of a story often go hand in hand with one another, an example of this from the cask of Amontillado is in the opening scene when Poe describes the environment and surroundings . The mood of The Cask of Amontillado is also established by the vengeful, internal narration by the main character, Montresor. There are also just as many examples of symbolism in this story as there are of foreshadowing. For instance, there are many details given to us about Montresor that are symbolic or that hint at other things. First is Montresor’s and Fortunato’s outfits at the carnival, Montresor wears a black mask and cape which just reinforces his foreboding intentions and menacing demeanor personality arc and what is to come. At the same time, Fortunato is described as wearing a jester’s costume, complete with tight, striped garments and a hat with dangling bells. Another big example of symbolism is Montresor’s coat of arms and family motto.

As Montresor and Fortunato walk through the catacombs, they have the following interaction. ‘“The Montresor’s,’ I replied, ‘were a great and numerous family’. ‘I [Fortunato] forget your arms.’ ‘A huge human foot d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded in the heel.’ ‘And the motto?’ ‘Nemo me impune lacessit”” ( Poe, Edgar Alan). The Montresor coat of arms represents that someone may try to harm or slander the family, but no one slights them and gets away with it. This idea of greater revenge for an offense is mirrored in the story. From the beginning, it can be deciphered that Fortunato had insulted Montresor’s name at some point and the following plot is of revenge for Montresor. Then the motto is even more explicitly revenge based. The motto translates directly to “no one attacks me with impunity” impunity meaning exemption from punishment (Merriam-Webster).  

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The Cask of Amontillado Symbolism. (2021, Apr 06). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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