The overall theme of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" is revenge. It involves a contrasting relationship between the satisfaction of the avenger and the victim's pursuit of love. Poe ties these feelings together by constantly using irony throughout the story. We will see how revenge is the force behind Montresor's motive, we will discover how love leads Fortunado to his death, we will determine the growth of Montresor's satisfaction, and we will learn how Poe uses irony to piece them together. .
The force that drives Montresor to commit the horrible murder of Fortunado is his powerful desire for revenge. The opening lines of the story, Montresor says, "The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." The idea of revenge is brought up several times in the opening paragraph. Montresor says, "I must not only punish, but punish with impunity." It is obvious to the reader that Montresor vowed revenge. Poe isolates the act of revenge throughout the story by not revealing the motive behind Montresor's crime. To accomplish his revenge, Montresor leads Fortunado down into the catacombs in search of Amontillado.
Fortunado prides himself on being a connoisseur of wine. When achieving his revenge, Montresor uses Fortunado's love for wine against him. "Is it further on?" Fortunado asks. His love for wine generates motivation. What he does not know is that this motive of love will pursue him to his death. The reader begins to see how Fortunado's love will trigger Montresor's satisfaction. .
Montresor receives a great deal of satisfaction as they descend down into the catacombs. As Fortunado's pursuit of the Amontillado continues, Montresor's satisfaction grows stronger. Montresor toasts, "And I to your long life." Montresor seems to be in good spirits, as he jokes to himself. The satisfaction increases and continues even as Montresor laid tiers of masonry.