Cask of Amontillado Imagery Analysis
In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allen Poe uses many examples of imagery, such as the descriptions of the carnival, characters, the walk through the catacombs, and much more throughout the story to build suspense and intrigue for the readers and add to the mystery of Montresor’s underlining actions of the revenge and deception of the foolish Fortunado. By using descriptive words and phrases to help us imagine the characters and setting the readers are drawn further into the suspense.
Beginning with the descriptions of the carnival, usually a joyous time, it is not so joyous but mostly dark with the vision of “[dusk] one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season. ” (Poe page 2) By using words like “dusk” and “madness” Poe takes away from the light atmosphere of the carnival season, and gives it a dark twist. Even the narrator, Montresor, is given an air of madness when described as “putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely. (Poe page 2) This gives us the sense of how mysterious he is, and takes the story even further into the suspense. We also begin to see that Fortunado is an extremely foolish character. Fortunado is said to be an expert on wines and is shown taking full advantage of this during the carnival by being completely drunk. He is dressed in motley, a suit a clown would wear, which puts him in an unsuspecting, innocent light.
When Montresor invites him to go along with him to see the amontillado wine in the catacombs, Fortunado jumps at the chance to see it, which also builds appeal for the reader to read on. As we travel deeper into the catacombs, we continue to see how it increasingly gets more and more intriguing for the reader, and makes them want to know what comes next. “Damp ground of the catacombs,” (Poe page 3) and “the drops of moisture trickle among the bones,” (Poe page 4) are both wonderful examples of how creepy the catacombs were.
The walls were lined with nitre, a preservative used at the time of this story, they had dim lighting, and the deeper and deeper they traveled a greater amount of corpses laying on the ground were seen. All of these images of the setting and characters come together with the idea of Montresor’s premeditated demise for Fortunado. From the beginning we know that Montresor is upset with Fortuado and he is seeking revenge. With all of Montresor’s comments we see that this is not just talk but a reality.
When the two men are discussing turning around due to Fortunado’s cough, Fortunado says, “I shall not die of a cough” which in reply Montresor says “true. ” (Poe page 3) This foreshadows the demise of Fortunado, and what Montresor has in mind for him. Another example of this is when they discuss Montresor’s family crest, that his family moto is “Nemo me impune lacessit” (Poe page 3) which means no one attacks me without paying dearly.
Along with this statement, is when he tells Fortunado that his family are of the masons, foreshadowing the way he will kill Fortunado. All of these descriptions that Poe creates through conversation between the characters and the details we are pulled along through the story, much as Fortunado is pulled along through the catacombs, where we all see his demise. Montresor eventually chains Fortunado to the wall and build up the cask that he will forever be in, alluding to the talk of the mason background of Montresor’s family.
At the end Montresor thinks to himself, “my heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so,” (Poe page 6) but then he realizes that he has his revenge and no one will ever know of the murder he is satisfied. The suspense and intrigue used throughout the story is very convincing and further proves that revenge and deception are powerful techniques when used with a motive.