The Symbolism In The Cask Of Amontillado By Edgar Allan Poe

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A symbol in literature is described as "a person, place, thing, or event that figuratively represents or stands for something else" (Mays, A12). In the short story "Cask of Amontillado," Edgar Allan Poe uses symbolism to establish the true meaning of revenge behind this story. In short, this story is based upon an act of revenge carried out by Montresor over Fortunato. Montresor lures Fortunato into “the catacombs of the Montresors” where he carries out his plan of revenge by ultimately killing Fortunato (Poe, 109). The incorporation of the precise decision of the title, the character names and the settings illustrates the profound use of symbolism in Poe's short story. To begin, one major symbol incorporated in the "Cask of Amontillado" is…show more content…
John Gruesser explains the literal meanings of both Montresor’s and Fortunato’s names. The name Fortunato translates to "the lucky one”, which by the end of the story the reader discovers that this is far from accurate. Unlike Fortunato, Montresor's name can be deciphered as meaning, “treasure” (Gruesser, 129). Montresor’s name can be described as a double use of symbolism. It is said that his "treasure" can be the cask, which is the true contributor that allows Montresor’s ease of carrying out his revenge and the act of revenge itself. Montresor’s name thickens in regards to symbolism when referring to his family's crest. The family’s coat of arms is described as “a huge human foot d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel” (Poe, 110). The crest also has the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit” incorporated in it, which means, “no one provokes me with impunity” (Poe, 110). This is interpreted as symbolic, because Fortunato’s character represents the foot and Montresor’s signifies the snake. Montresor’s goal is to seek revenge on Fortunato because Fortunato injured Montresor’s family. Likewise, the snake is seeking revenge on the foot for injuring it (Poe, 108…show more content…
There are two main settings in the story. One setting in the story is described as a carnival atmosphere above ground and the other is in the catacombs underneath the ground. Poe’s description of the catacombs depicts what will eventually happen to Fortunato. "We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs" (Poe, 111). The diverse settings within this story can be thought of as having a direct correlation with Montresor's assorted personality traits. Like the warm-welcoming atmosphere of a carnival, Montresor can be seen as a welcoming individual that does not want anyone to judge his "good will;" however, once one goes beneath the initial layer of Montresor's personality or more like underneath the surface into the catacombs, there lies a dark and despiteful individual whose goal is to seek revenge on Fortunato. For example, Montresor provides multiple subtle hints to Fortunato that indicates what he is planning to do. The most profound hint is when Montresor states, “but observe the white web-work which gleams from these carven walls” (Poe, 110). Literally speaking, webs are created by spiders to lure their prey into an enclosed area with nowhere to go. Therefore, these precise words are used to symbolize Montresor’s plan to trap Fortunato into an area where there is no getting out and where he is left to die, just like

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