Edgar Allan Poe was the author of gothic and dark romanticism fiction. His literary work always differed from others due to their macabre and mysterious atmosphere. It is surprisingly how mature the author was to enhance so much mystery and so many literary devices in such short stories that he wrote. Among magnetic figures of speech he used there were metaphors, epithets, personification, and many others. However, such stylistic device as irony took a prominent place in Poe’s works.
Irony indicates derision of someone or something. The important trait of irony is the circuitous presentation of a disagreement between an expression or action and a perspective in which it happens. Considering irony as the figure of speech, it is important to mention that the emphasis is made on the opposite meaning of a statement. In other words, when something is said, it is perceived as opposite. The good example of irony is the statement “What a perfect day” when, in fact, it was not so good. Besides the rhetorical figure, ironic writing delves into such aspects as the development of a character, plot, and situation in order to emphasize the absurd nature of the existing reality or the disparity between an actual and ideal state of affairs, circumstances, conditions, etc. However, it is important to remember that irony is different to sarcasm because of its higher delicacy and intelligence.
Reading Poe’s story “The Cask of Amontillado”, one can see the usage of irony by the American poet and writer. Throughout the story, the readers can observe verbal, situational and dramatic irony. The situational irony can be seen when one thing is estimated but the contradictory happens (Perkins page number). First and foremost, one should notice that the meaning of the word “cask” is “wine barrel”. Nevertheless, the casket or tomb also comes from the similar word. Consequently, though Fortunato thinks that he will eventually attain a cask of mauve wine, he, in point of fact, meets his coffer. The next example of situational irony is the name “Fortunato”, which means “fortunate”. Hence, as one can see from the text, Fortunato is very unlucky in all authenticity. As a final point of the situational irony, it is relevant to mention Fortunato’s dress that bears a resemblance to a festive court clown; his joyful outfit has distinctions from the terrible fate, which he is to face.
Talking about the dramatic irony, one should notice that a character or the reader knows some facts that another character of the story is not aware of (Mackey and Cooper page number); this is also obvious in the Poe’s story. Specifically, Fortunato tells Montresor that he has no need to worry about his healthiness because the cough is not able to kill a person. Montresor agrees with him; this is one of the turning points of the story where the irony is perfectly detected. At this point, the reader can see a devilish intermittent light in Montresor’s eyes since he knows precisely how Fortunato is supposed to die, and he obviously will.
The example of the verbal irony is when something is said but another is intended (Fell page number). For instance, verbal irony is present when Montresor comes across Fortunato at the opening part of the story and says that Fortunato is fortunately met. However, the meaning is that Montresor is lucky to meet Fortunato.
Taking into consideration all the above-mentioned information and the examples of literary devices in the story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Poe, one can see dominant characteristic feature of Poe’s stories – the irony. Besides, the author enhanced this stylistic device to make his literary works maturely labyrinthine.