Literature Essays & Paper Examples

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Irony In “The Cask Of Amontillado” And “The Story Of An Hour” Essay Sample

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“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe is a story of revenge. Fortunato insults Montresor. Therefore, Montresor lures Fortunato into the catacombs below Montresor’s home and seals him inside. One the other hand, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a story of complicated love and brief freedom. Richards and Josephine find out that Mrs. Mallard’s husband has been killed. Mrs. Mallard has a heart disease, so Richards and Josephine decide to tell her so she will not find out somewhere else and suffer heart failure. Mrs. Mallard grieves at first because she loves her husband, but then she realizes that she is free. She is overcome with joy at this realization. Then, her husband walks through the door. Mrs. Mallard is so shocked that she dies of heart failure. Despite the differences between these two stories, they have one major similarity. Both authors use irony, which is when unexpected things happen (dramatic) or when words have hidden meanings (verbal). The themes – or central ideas – of the two stories are partially revealed through verbal and dramatic irony. First, “The Cask of Amontillado” has many examples of verbal irony. One example is Montresor’s family motto. Montresor takes Fortunato into the catacombs to punish him for insulting Montresor. But, Fortunato does not yet know he is being punished. Montresor reminds Fortunato of Montresor’s family motto: “No one insults me with impunity” (193). This statement should have been a clue to Fortunato, but he is too drunk to see it. Another example is Montresor constantly telling Fortunato how precious his health is. Montresor says several times that they should turn back because he does not want Fortunato to get sick. Meanwhile, the whole time Montresor is planning to kill Fortunato. Also, Montresor and Fortunato open a bottle of wine and Fortunato drinks to the dead around them. Montresor says “And I to your long life” (193), again all the while planning Fortunato’s death. Each instance of irony helps to reveal the theme of revenge in the story. Second, “The Story of an Hour” also has examples of verbal irony. One is when Mrs. Mallard, after finding out that her husband is dead, joyfully repeats the word “free” when in reality she will soon be trapped by death. Then she says “Free! Body and soul free!” (73), but what she does not know is how soon her soul will be free from her body. One last example is when Josephine tells Mrs. Mallard to come out of the bedroom or she will make herself sick. Mrs. Mallard is actually fine in the bedroom, but when she does come out, she sees her husband and dies. Occurrences of irony in this story help to reveal the theme things are not always as they appear. Finally, both stories contain incidences of dramatic irony. In “The Cask of Amontillado” Fortunato is a mason. In the end, he is bricked up in the catacombs to die. This example of irony in “The Cask of Amontillado” helps to reveal the theme of revenge throughout the story. In “The Story of an Hour” Mrs. Mallard’s friends try to prevent her from having a heart attack by trying to “break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death” (71) before she finds out somewhere else. Instead they cause her to have a heart attack, because her husband is not dead. Also, Mrs. Mallard’s sister tries desperately to ease Mrs. Mallard’s grief, but Mrs. Mallard is happy not sad. These examples of irony from “The Story of an Hour” help to reveal the theme things are not always as they seem. Irony plays a large part in everyday life. People use irony to cover up mistakes, hide nervousness, and soften the blow of difficult news. Children and teenagers often use irony in sarcastic remarks made to their parents, teachers, and even each other. Television and radio give examples of irony on every show and in every song. Irony is in every movie. Irony would not be so common if it were not effective in getting people’s points across. Poe and Chopin knew the effectiveness of irony and used it to help uncover the depth of their stories. Bibliography Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Compact 4th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000. 191-196. Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour” Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Compact 4th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000. 191-196. Word Count: 704

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