“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is essentially little more than a study in pure suspense because the end is open to question.  At the start, the motive of revenge is firmly established, and there is evident hatred in Montresor for Fortunato.  This foundation, however, is set in place only to allow the suspense to run its course.  The reader understands that the narrator has a plan, and in no time the reader accompanies the two men into the wine cellars.  This location is one component of the two creating the suspense, because there is a growing sense of narrowing confinement as the men move on.

Clearly, Montresor has chosen to carry out his scheme where no life can observe or hear, and this physical, oppressive atmosphere heightens the impending danger.  It is the second component, however, that shifts the suspense into an active force.  It is Montresor’s repeated pleas to his enemy that they should turn back.  The reader knows what Montresor intends, so his offering of escape to his victim creates real tension.  The offer is even phrased in a considerate way: “We will go back; you will be ill and I cannot be responsible”  (p. #).  The reader then understands that Montresor is so confident, he is free to “play” with his victim.  The chance for Fortunato to avoid his gruesome murder is even repeated: “Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough – ”  (p. #).  The suspense, then, is not generated by the confidence motivating Montresor, but by the reader’s valid assumption that Fortunato just may change his mind.  Consequently, “The Cask of Amontillado” reveals that true suspense can only be created when there is doubt as to the expected outcome.

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