"Romanticism is a movement in the fine arts which emphasizes strong emotion as an authentic source of experience" [enotes]. Thus, it stresses emotional wildness, the imagination, psychological experiences, strong senses, trepidation, and horror. Embracing the exotic, distant in modes, Romanticism emphasizes the individual imagination as a critical authority. The Dark Romantics explored the conflict between good and evil, the psychological effects of guilt and sin, and even madness and derangement in the human psyche. And, they saw the blankness and the horror of evil.
- As a Dark Romantic, Edgar Allan Poe's narrator in "The Cask of Amontillado" is characterized by emotional madness and derangement. In the opening of the story, he expresses this madness:
The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had born as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat.
It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season that I encountered my friend.
- As Montesor explains his retribution, he evinces how his imagination has becomce his critical authority:
At length I would be avenged;... the very definitiveness with which it was resolved, precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is dqually unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.
- The gothic setting of the catacombs are certainly characteristic of Dark Romanticism:
At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. it walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault over head, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size.
- In Poe's narrative, there are psychological experiences, trepidation, and horror:
A succession of loud and shrill screams bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back[pyschological feeling)....For a brief moment I hesitated--I trembled....(trepidation) I replied to the yells of him who clamored....
It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close...I had completed the ...tenth tier... But, now there came from out the niche a low laugh erected the hairs upon my head....For the love of God Montressor....(trepidation)
Furthermore, Poe's narrator grows sick in the horror of his actions:
"I thrust a torch through the remaining apertureand let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick---on account of the dampness of the catacombs....