What are some examples of mood and tone in "The Cask of Amontillado"?
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Author Edgar Allan Poe mixes several moods in his short story "The Cask of Amontillado." Outside of Montresor's home there exists the "supreme madness of the carnival season," where Montresor's servants have headed for a night of celebration. It is from this madness that Fortunato comes, hoping to further his drunken state with a taste of the rare Amontillado. But within Montressor's palazzo their exists a state of deadly seriousness. He has planned Fortunato's death carefully, luring the victim deep into the gruesome depths of the catacombs, where centuries of bones are strewn about the bottles of wine that also are stored there. Fortunato does not foresee the danger that awaits him, nor does he recognize the irony of some of Montresor's comments, such as the double meaning of the trowel and Montresor's agreement that Fortunato will not die of a cough. Poe maintains an ominous mood as well: We know that Montresor plans to kill Fortunato, but we don't know how until the end.
The mood in "The Cask of Amantillado" is largely established through the setting. The time, the last night of Mardi Gras, hints at the deprivation and "end of the party" to come. Fortunato's costume denotes his foolish mistakes as he is lured into his final gruesome end. Which is indeed the end of a long, dank, musty, corridor through the catacombs containing the moldering remains of the Montresor ancestors. The torch lighting, and crumbling facades remind the reader that it is a dark and unvisited place. A place where no one will ever find the unfortunate Fortunato.
The tone of the story is one of dark sarcasm and horror. Montresor hints at Fortunato's end with his not so funny jokes about the trowel he carries and with his cynical attitude that Fortunato will fall easily for his manipulative techniques of suggesting he go ask a different expert rather than bother Fortunato. The horryifying links that Montresor is willing to go to exact revenge is intended to be more than the reader can accept and yet the reader is forced to admit that they enjoy the fall of Fortunato. This leaves the reader feeling a bit guilty and horrified at their own manipulation.
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