Poe’s use of color imagery is central to his questioning of Montresor’s motives. His face covered in a black silk mask, Montresor represents not blind justice but rather its Gothic opposite: biased revenge. In contrast, Fortunato dons the motley-colored costume of the court fool, who gets literally and tragically fooled by Montresor’s masked motives. The color schemes here represent the irony of Fortunato’s death sentence. Fortunato, Italian for “the fortunate one,” faces the realization that even the carnival season can be murderously serious. Montresor chooses the setting of the carnival for its abandonment of social order. While the carnival usually indicates joyful social interaction, Montresor distorts its merry abandon, turning the carnival on its head. The repeated allusions to the bones of Montresor’s family that line the vaults foreshadow the story’s descent into the underworld. The two men’s underground travels are a metaphor for their trip to hell. Because the carnival, in the land of the living, does not occur as Montresor wants it to, he takes the carnival below ground, to the realm of the dead and the satanic.
Why is horror so popular? Our culture is awash with it. Although some may avoid scary movies and books, most of us crave that occasional tingle running down our spines.
But that doesn’t answer our question: Why? Why do we want to be scared, and why do all these people want to scare us? There are several answers, not limited to what we talk about here.
Horror writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, author of the dismal tale at hand, will tell you that scary stories are a great way to express social and personal anxieties over sex, drugs, parents, children, bullies, and war, to name a few. We want to talk about them because we want to understand them, but we can’t always find the right time or place.
For the person reading or watching horror, it’s also a kind of freedom. The horror story is an argument, usually a dark and mysterious one, about human nature. By reading or watching, we participate in this argument.
Horror-master Steven King says, “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones” ( source ). In some ways, we read and watch horror for the same reason: our own lives often seem nice and calm after a few hours of fear.
Plus, Edgar Allan Poe's stories are fun because they're complicated puzzles. You have to exercise your brain muscles to figure them out. And because “The Cask of Amontillado” is so very short, we can really focus on its details, and we can read it as many times as we want.