The descriptive details in “The Cask of Amontillado” are important to the story. They help to set the mood and create a sense of suspense. For example, Poe describes the Montresor family coat of arms, which features a bloody hand. This image is repeated throughout the story, lending a feeling of doom and foreboding to the proceedings.
Poe also uses detailed descriptions of the catacombs, which help to create a spooky atmosphere. The reader can practically feel the darkness and humidity pressing in on them. By using such richly descriptive language, Poe is able to evoke a range of emotions in the reader and heighten the suspense of the story.
In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montressor seeks to exact revenge on Fortunato for an unknown affront. At the start of the narrative, Montressor confesses, “I bore a thousand injuries from Fortunato as I best could; but when he insulted me, I promised vengeance” (Lowell 214). Montresor wants to punish not just but also unpunished in order to fulfill his purpose. The nature of this slight is not described; however, it’s implied that it changed Montresors social status.
You are a man to be missed. To you the world owes a great deal” (215). The implication is that Montresor once had the same social status as Fortunato, but because of this insult his status has diminished.
Montresor takes Fortunato to the catacombs of his palace because he knows that Fortunato is afraid of the dark and of dead bodies. Montresor also tells Fortunato that he has obtained a cask of Amontillado, a wine that is thought to be rare. Fortunato agrees to go with Montressor to verify the wine’s authenticity. The two men start down into the catacombs, and Montressor offers Fortunato a chance to back out, but Fortunato continues to follow. The men go further down and the atmosphere becomes more and more dank. The temperature also drops and Montressor tells Fortunato that he has a cold.
Fortunato starts to drink from a bottle of wine and Montressor asks him if he is still “a Mason” (217). The Masons were a group of men who took an oath of secrecy. The implication is that Montresor is also in the Mason group and that Fortunato may have violated this oath by revealing information about Montresor. The men come to a niche in the wall and Montresor chains Fortunato to the wall.
Montressor says, “It is very cold in this catacomb” (218) and Fortunato replies, “Yes; but not so cold as the well of St. Clare” (218). The well of St. Clare was a well that was said to be haunted. The men go further down and Montresor finds a length of cord. He puts the cord around Fortunato’s neck and starts to strangle him.
Fortunato starts to plead for his life and Montressor tells him that he will spare him if he agrees to take back the insult. Fortunato agrees and Montressor takes the cask of Amontillado from him. The men start back up the stairs and Montressor releases his grip on the cord. Fortunato falls to the ground and Montressor leaves him there to die. The story concludes with Montresor saying, “In pace requiescat!” (218), which is Latin for “rest in peace.”
The descriptive details in “The Cask of Amontillado” help to create a dark and suspenseful atmosphere. The author, Edgar Allan Poe, uses words such as “dank,” “gloomy,” and “ghastly” to make the reader feel like they are descending into the catacombs with Montressor and Fortunato. The cold temperature and darkness add to the feeling of dread. The reader also knows that Montresor is planning to kill Fortunato, which makes the atmosphere even more suspenseful.
The dialogue between Montressor and Fortunato is also important in creating a tense mood. The reader knows that Montresor is angry about an insult, but does not know what the insult was. The conversation is full of cryptic clues that add to the suspense. The end of the story is shocking and horrifying, and leaves the reader with a feeling of horror and dread.
The narrator implies that Montresor once held high social standing, but it has since been diminished by Fortunato’s insult. Fortunato enters the scene wearing a jesters costume and is oblivious to Montesors murderous intentions. Montresor tricks Fortunato, who boasts of his “connoisseurship in wine,” into entering the family vaults so he can sample and identify some “Amontillado” (Lowell 215). Along the journey, Fortunato gets much drunker and oblivious to Montresors diabolical scheme of assassination.
The descriptive details in this story help set the mood and create suspense. The use of words such as “foul,” “damp,” and “ghastly” give the reader a sense of horror and disgust. The setting is also dark and dreary, perfect for a murder scene. The last sentence of the story is one of the most suspenseful, leaving the reader wondering what will happen to Fortunato.
The narrator’s voice is audible in the passage, as he calls out to Fortunato and receives no response except the “jingling of the bells” from his cap (222). Grimes 2 II. Auditory Appeal The fact that the narrator mentions the “jingling of the bells” several times after fifty years indicates that he is haunted with a memory of their sound. Poe was aware that audiences would connect the chilling sound of bells to premature burial. During Poe’s time, live burial was used as a form of capital punishment in Europe (1).
The fear of being buried alive is a common fear during this time and Poe uses the bells in The Cask of Amontillado to heighten the terror for his audience. The bells create an eerie sound that makes the reader feel as if they are right there with Montresor and Fortunato. The jingling of the bells is one example of how Poe uses auditory appeal in The Cask of Amontillado to create a horrifying experience for the reader.
The horrible sound of the bells is used by Poe to appeal to the audience’s hearing senses. The resonating power of these bells has a frightening effect on the people. Every time Montresor focuses on the sound of the bells, the audience is made aware of the surrounding silence. “Poe was well-aware how startling cessation in midst of celebration can have an electric impact; he knew how to exploit it as a means to flee from intolerable terror.
The use of sound in The Cask of Amontillado is a way to create tension and fear in the reader. As the story progresses, the use of sound becomes more and more important. The bells create an eerie feeling that makes the reader feel as if they are right there with Montresor.
Montresor also uses smell to create a sense of terror in the reader. The smell of death surrounds Fortunato throughout the story. The “foul and pestilential air” (Poe 182) makes the reader feel as if they are in the same room as Montresor and Fortunato.