Themes of The Cask of Amontillado

Edgar Allen Poe American poet, short story writer and critic, born in Boston in 1809, died in Baltimore in 1849. His parents died when he was a child and parted over the young man's gambling debts, and from then onward Poe's life was a struggle with hack-work, poverty and alcoholism. He is one of the most complex American writers. He is master of creating an atmosphere full of terror, horror, and queer fantasies coupled with psychological abnormalities.

In Cask of Amontillado Poe creates an atmosphere of death, horror and blood-chilling feeling of despicable moist and damp environment by taking us in a family underground graveyard. The main theme of the story is revenge as it is the primary force that drives Montresor to commit the horrible murder of Fotunato. The narrator opens the story saying that he has been grievously insulted by his friend Fortunato which is unpardonable from his view point. He had borne thousand injuries of Fortunato but when he ventured upon insult, the writer says he vowed revenge.

The narrator wants to exact his revenge by thoroughly planning the entire affair. He exploits his friend Fortunato's weakness for wine. During the carnival season he asks Fortunato to use his skill and taste to ensure for him the genuineness of a wine Amontillado a light, expensive and rare Spanish cherry. The narrator tells him that he acquired this stuff from Montresor's vaults. He invites his friend to be with him and check the Amontillado wine by visiting the catacomb. Poe uses carnival costumes and colours as symbols to represent the inner psyche of both the characters. He also uses Montresor's family coat of arms as symbols to depict the deeper psychological pattern of the Montresor family.

They enter the catacomb and descend into the moist vaults covered with niter or saltpeter, a whitish material that causes Fortunato to cough bitterly. The narrator keeps offering wine to Fortunato in order to intoxicate him thoroughly. Montresor tells Fortunato that he is a mason and shows a trowel as proof. These two men walk into a crypt which has only three walls decorated by human bones. The fourth wall has been thrown down. On the exposed wall is a recess where Montesors claims the Itallian cherry is stored.

Fortunato heavily intoxicated by now goes to the recess. All of a sudden Motesoro chains him with a stone. Montesoro starts building the broken walls while hearing Fortunato screams and buries him live there to revenge upon. The irony of the whole story is that the entire incident occurred fifty years back and nobody knows anything about this cold blooded murder.

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