Many of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories ("The Cask of Amontillado," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Pit and the Pendulum") are set in dark places in the middle of the night. The settings create a tone of mystery, evil and foreboding. Most of the characters are suspicious, and their actions often involve murder (Montresor in "The Cask," the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart"). Even the characters who are subjected to the torture and death are not completely innocent: Fortunato ("The Cask") is guilty of unnamed crimes; the old man ("The Tell-Tale Heart") has an evil, "vulture eye." Poe's settings nearly always contain a Gothic element, with
... medieval castles... mystery, horror, violence, ghosts, clanking chains, long underground passages, and dark chambers.
These Gothic settings create an atmosphere of terror, supernatural wonder and an expectation of the unexpected.