Honors English 10/ 4th period
4 March 2012
Ironic Downfall into the Catacombs
The literary devices irony and foreshadowing are used to accent one another. Edgar Allan Poe craftily uses both of these devices in order to make his stories tricky and deceitful to the characters but obvious to the reader. As the devices intertwine they allow for stories to become more complex and meaningful. In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, Poe uses irony to foreshadow Fortunato’s downfall through the Montresor coat of arms, the origin of the characters’ names, and the use of the Free Masons.
The Montresor family crest, the human foot d’or, accompanied by its motto, Nemo me impune lacesit (No one insults me with impunity), foreshadows Fortunato’s downfall through its symbolic meaning. Fortunato, after being reminded of the crest and motto, mocks the family as well as for what they stand. Fortunato appears to have completely forgotten the Montresor family crest, “I forget your arms’” (Poe 3). That Fortunato has forgotten this is a direct insult to the Montresor family name; this along with other insults to the family constitutes one reason that Montresor justifies himself to seek revenge. When Fortunato forgets the Montresor family crest and mockingly accepts his fate, the crest and the motto prove their irony. The irony in the family crest is what it symbolizes, “He (Montresor) regards himself as the vindicator of his ancestors, ‘The human foot d’or’ about to crush the ‘serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.’…Fortunato’s prosperity has somehow become associated in his mind with his own diminution” (Garagona 312). The fact that Montresor believes Fortunato represents the snake being crushed foretells Fortunato’s downfall through the irony of Montresor wanting to crush him for his disrespect. Montresor sees himself as the only person who can save his family’s name, and thinks he must do so in accordance to the family motto....