How does Poe develop a sense of suspense in “The Cask of Amontillado”?

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clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poe is the master of suspenseful writing and unique plot twists. He develops suspense through the use of setting and the characters. When Montresor begins the story immediately we know we are dealing with a volatile loose cannon. Poe uses Montresor, the unreliable narrator, to tell this gruesome tale. We know right away that Montresor plans to exact revenge for the "thousand injuries"Fortunato has inflicted upon him. The story unfolds during the carnival season and Montresor happened to come dressed as the Grim Reaper while Fortunato, in stark contrast, comes dressed as a jester. The two meet at night and Montresor speaks to his "friend" very darkly, although Fortunato is too drunk to realize. Montresor lead Fortunato to his empty estate under the auspices of tasting a fine wine. Once there he leads him into the catacombs, which also served as the burial tombs for the family's generations passed. The suspense grows and reaches its climax when we realize along with Fortunato that Montresor plans to bury him alive in the tombs behind a newly built brick wall.

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The Cask of Amontillado

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