What devices does Poe use to create and heighten the suspense in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Poe uses foreshadowing and irony masterfully as he begins to weave this tale of horror.  It takes place during the carnival season of an Italian community, where the revelers are in costume and enjoying generous amounts of wine and other libations.  Montresor wastes no time revealing himself as extremely narcissistic and sociopathic, explaining to the reader the reason for his murderous plans: he is simply redressing what he calls "the thousand injuries" visited upon him over time by Fortunato (whose name, ironically, is exactly the opposite of what is about to befall him).  As Montresor takes the inebriated Fortunato to the catacombs, he describes the dampness of the atmosphere, the bones strewn about, and the oppressive darkness as they venture deeper and deeper into the catacombs, thoughtfully justifying this venture deep into the earth as necessary because if one gets caught trying to extract revenge, then the act of revenge doesn't count.  The full extent of the horror of Fortunato's demise becomes apparent as Montresor chains Fortunato to heavy links he has cemented to the rock, and begins building a wall, brick by brick, as Fortunato slowly recovers from his drunken state and realizes what is happening. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial