Explain how the narrator's point of view shapes the action and pacing of "The Cask of Amontillado."

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The narration in "The Cask of Amontillado" is provided by a first-person point of view from an arguably unreliable and manipulative narrator, Montresor. The narrator opens the story with vague and non-specific claims against Fortunato that set the foundation for Montresor's murder. Because the narration of the story comes from the point of view of a cold, manipulative, and vague murderer, the storyline then coincides with this unclear and sinister narration. Readers are never given a thorough reasoning for why Montresor decides to kill Fortunato. As Montresor leads Fortunato deep into the depths of his estate, readers also descend deeper into the sinister plans of the narrator and deeper into the lack of clarity as to why the narrator would go to such horrible lengths against Fortunato.

As opposed to some of the more erratic and frantic narrators of Edgar Allen Poe's comparable short stories, the narrator of "The Cask of Amontillado" is less erratic and more sinister and calculating. The pacing of the story reflects this less erratic narration. The story takes on a more dark beauty in some passages and is filled with more suspense than brazen action. While Fortunate meets a horrific fate, the actual murder is not one of blood and gore but is filled with the cold, calculating, and ironic malice that matches the tone and personality of the narrator.

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This story is narrated from a first-person objective point of view. This means that the narrator uses first-person pronouns like I or we and that he is a participant in the events that occur. It also means that he is narrating events after they have already taken place rather than while they are taking place; you can tell this, in part, because he uses past tense verbs like had rather than has and did rather than does. At the very end of the story, the narrator reveals that it has actually been "half of a century" since these events took place—a full fifty years—so he has had plenty of time to reflect on what happened and, perhaps, even justify his actions further or consider how he wants to tell his story. This point of view certainly helps to shape the action and pacing, because the narrator is more measured and less emotional than a first-person subjective narrator, who tells the story as it's happening, would be.

In addition, because of the narrator's point of view, he is able to include a great deal of dramatic irony in the text, building suspense and increasing the tension the reader feels. He tells us, for example, how he managed to get rid of his servants by telling them that he would be gone all night and how they should stay home. He knew this would ensure their leaving as soon as he did, proving his sagacity as far as human nature as well as how thoughtful and manipulative he is. Neither his servants nor Fortunato realized his intentions or nature. He also describes the descent into the vaults in some detail, slowing the pace of the work and increasing suspense as well.

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