How does Poe use fear to create suspense? What is an example in the Cask of Amontillado?

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chelseaosborne314 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the Cask of Amontillado, I do not believe that Poe used fear to create suspense, but rather the other way around: Poe used suspense to create fear. At the beginning of the story, Montresor says that he has vowed revenge against Fortunato, but we do not know in what way he wishes to do so. Throughout the beginning of the story, we have no idea what Montresor's intentions are, what he plans to do to Fortunato in order to exact his revenge. The first clue we get is when Montresor pulls a shovel out from beneath his cloak. But what does he plan to do with the shovel? Has he buried something dangerous? Is he going to bury Fortunato? But why such a small shovel if he plans to bury the other man? These kinds of questions build the suspense, effectively making the reader fear for Fortunato. What kind of situation will meet him at the end of this whole thing? All of this suspense leads a reader to identify with Fortunato's fear as he is being blocked in. His cries and screams of fear are made all the more potent because we have spent this whole time knowing that something terrible was likely to happen, but not knowing what; so when it actually happens, we feel the real-time fear just as Fortunato would have (though obviously not nearly as much, as we are not facing certain death).

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The Cask of Amontillado

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