45 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask of Amontillado

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1846

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Literary Devices

Unreliable Narrator

Gothic literature often probes the narrator’s inner psyche, which can be distorted, meaning the narrator is unreliable. “The Cask of Amontillado” presents an unreliable narrator in Montresor who gives the reader no clear reasoning for his harsh actions, as Fortunato’s “thousand injuries” remain indeterminate. There is thus no clear indication that Montresor is justified in his actions, and information is deliberately withheld from the reader. Some scholars maintain that Montresor’s unreliable narration suggests psychological instability. Given Montresor’s bitterness toward Fortunato and the severity of his actions at the end of the story, the reader is left to wonder how rational he is, creating a destabilizing effect through a narrative ambience of suspicion that enhances the story’s themes.


Irony is a literary device that adds layers of interpretation to a story, and several such instances imbue Poe’s story with deeper meaning. The first is Fortunato’s name, which would seemingly suggest fortune, although the character turns out not to be so fortunate after all—nor can his fortune of wealth save him from his fate. A second occurrence of irony can be found in Fortunato’s carnival garments. Dressed in “a tight-fitting parti-striped dress” adorned with a conical cap and bells (162),