Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" is a story about revenge and the workings of the twisted mind of a man who is intent on it. In this selection, there are many examples of symbolism and foreshadowing. The theme that is prevalent is man's domination of his fortune which has been unkind to him.
The first and main idea of symbolism comes into the story when Poe describes Fortunato's dress. He's described as wearing "motley," like a jester. This costume is appropriate for Fortunato's character in several ways. First of all, Fortunato is said to have given Montressor "the thousand injuries" for what he is being avenged for. This in itself makes the jester costume appropriate. Another aspect of the symbolism of the jester costume is that in medieval times, a cruel king would have a court jester executed when his majesty thought the jester had lost his charm-- if the jokes didn't please, decapitation served as the entertainment. This parallels with Montressor's feelings about Fortunato- Montressor was sick of hearing Fortunato's jokes and ridicules and decided to put an end to it. Another way to interpret Fortunato's jester costume is that he is made a fool by his pride. Montressor intended to make a fool of him and, in the end, Fortunato's arrogance and pride in his connoiseurship of wine did him in. He could not fathom anyone else's opinion on a wine being any good, so he had to appraise the wine himself.
Another point of symbolism that isn't seen without research is expressed by Kenneth Silverman in his book Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Silverman notes that the Montressor motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, is the national motto of Scotland. He thinks that Poe chose this motto not only because of the appropriateness, but because of underlying tenseness- his foster father, John Allan was Scottish. Allan "much resembled Fortunato in being a man "rich, respected, admired, beloved," interested in wines, and a member of the Masons" (Silverman 317).