What devices does Poe use to create and heighten the suspense in the story?

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Poe utilizes several literary devices in order to heighten the suspense of the story, beginning with his style. By using a first-person narrator and situating the story in the form of a letter or confession, Poe creates an intimate connection with the reader, who gains private insight into Montresor's serious crime. However, Poe heightens the suspense by depicting Montresor as an unreliable narrator. The reader cannot fully believe everything Montresor says and his continual use of verbal irony builds suspense throughout the story. When Fortunato says, "the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough," Montresor replies by saying, "True—true" (Poe, 6). Poe also utilizes situational irony to heighten the suspense. The entire time Fortunato believes that he is racing towards the rare Amontillado wine, he is actually heading towards his death. The reader also questions the "thousand injuries" levied against Montresor by Fortunato, and the lack of an omniscient description creates a sense of mystery surrounding the two character's relationship. Poe also utilizes symbolism to create suspense, which is illustrated by Montresor's description of his family's coat of arms. The serpent biting the foot in the azure field represents Montresor's plot to get revenge. Overall, Poe's writing style, unreliable narrator, and use of irony and symbolism build suspense throughout the short story.

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Poe begins the story with a "hook," something that grabs the reader's attention. He notes the thousand injuries and the insult that made him determined to seek revenge. The reader is hooked in a moment of suspense, wondering what the insult might have been and how Montresor will attempt to employ his revenge. 

Fortunato's namely sounds and looks quite similar to "fortunate." Poe creates suspense by suggesting that he is going to be fortunate in the end, or that his name is ironic and that he will come to an unfortunate end. But, again, just as Poe does with Montresor's mention of the insult, it is the withholding of information that heightens the suspense. Is Fortunato's name suggestive of some final good luck in the end or is it meant to be ironic? 

As they descend into the vaults, Fortunato asks Montrestor about his family's coat of arms. Montresor replies that it is of a foot crushing a serpent whose fangs are embedded in the heel. The motto is nemo me impune lacessit. This means " no one can harm me unpunished." Even if the reader doesn't get the Latin motto, the image Montresor describes foreshadows what he will metaphorically do to Fortunato. Fortunato is the serpent and his fangs are the alleged insult. Montresor metaphorically crushes Fortunato with his heel; this represents his revenge. 

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