As with most stories, sight is the sense most frequently invoked. Poe gives the reader a visual description of Fortunato—in his fool’s motley with absurd cap and bells—and makes Montresor a more elegant, sinister figure in his black silk mask and roquelaure. The vast catacombs of Montresor’s house, with walls of piled bones, casks, and puncheons are described as crusted with niter which hangs like moss on the walls, lending a suitably gothic atmosphere of decay to the narrative.
The description of niter also employs the sense of touch when Montresor says in a chilling physical image that the “drops of moisture trickle along the bones.” Sound is used to similar effect in Fortunato’s incessant cough and then in the “succession of loud and shrill screams,” mockingly echoed and redoubled by Montresor. At last, there is the feeble attempt at laughter by a man whose spirit has been broken.
Ironically, the two senses missing from the story are those of taste and smell, the very...
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