A Literature Review on “The Cask of Amontillado

“The Cask of Amontillado”: A Literature Review

Webster’s dictionary defines Carnivals as “any merrymaking, feasting, or masquerading, especially when overstepping the bounds of decorum; a time of riotous excess.” (Grammar and Definitions). Princeton’s WordNet describes carnival as “a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment” (Grammar and Definitions). Carnivals are not just mellow festivals but are also a hot bed for heinous crimes

The word carnival originated from two Latin words; carnis (“flesh”) and levare (“to leave off”). The festival takes different forms and is celebrated worldwide. It dates back to the 15th century. It began as a Christian festival and juxtaposed itself into a dramatic festival including concerts, costume parties, dinners, balls, and hunting parties (Guitar, 2001) (Grammar and Definitions). The dynamism of the carnival has seen various groups from different localities celebrate it inversely. Currently, it is a mellow celebration with several activities.

The author is keen to give a vivid description of the setting of the story. He gives his piece a time dimension in his mention of the carnival festival. He further indicates that the victim, Fortunato, who was in a costume of a court jester, had been drinking much, which is characteristic commensurate of the festival (Poe, VOA Learning English). The author uses the carnival to highlight the vulnerability and doglegs associated with all-out festivals. It is also used to highlight the schemes of a murderous mastermind intent on committing his deed: how he plans, lures, and finally executes his plans.

Carnivals world over have seen the occurrence of bizarre events including fatal accidents, natural calamities, and pre-planned horrid events. To get an in-depth understanding of the crimes shrouded at these events, one must know the purpose of these events, the event regalia, consume and décor, and state of mind of the participants among others.

Carnivals have different connotations in different areas. For instance, in Africa, participants sang and danced to rid their villages of bad omens and bring good tidings (The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, 1994). In the Dominican, the carnival is celebrated together with Independence Day celebrations. Among the Spaniards, carnivals are religious and are celebrated to bid farewell to life’s pleasures and the sad arrival of Lent. Carnivals are historical events deeply rooted in the respective communities. They, therefore, bear historical, cultural, and religious importance to the people. Each community has a unique dress code for the event. In the Spanish carnival, various cities have different approaches to the carnival dress code. For instance, in Catalonia, men dress like birds, in the Galician peligqueiros ape shermans and dawn animal masks, while in the Spanish capital matadors fight bulls (Guitar, 2001). In other localities masquerades are organized with participants wearing facemasks. During this festival the members of the procession are allowed to indulge wine and other alcoholic drinks.

It is, therefore, evident from the story that masquerades and carnivals can be dated back in history (Poe, THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO, 1846). In these processions and festivals, individuals overindulge the use of drugs, hence hindering their sense of judgment of situations. They set the platform for not only social interactions but also miniscule opportunities for marauding criminals to settle their vendettas. This story reveals the animosity, jealousy, and grudge that was cultivated in Montresor from his childhood. He then engineers a well-choreographed plan to get back at and finally eliminate his arch nemesis. Montresor lured his foe Fortunato and got him into a drunken stupor only to bury him alive in a wall. He does this without blinking and laughs at the end when Fortunato fails to respond to his call.