What elements of setting are found in the vaults beneath Montresor's palace in "The Cask of Amontillado"?  Identify those that add to the story's atmosphere. List at least 5

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poe chooses his words carefully, so almost everything lends itself to the atmosphere of the story...one of gruesome terror.  Fortunato, however, does not recognize the danger he is in due to the deadening of his senses by all the wine he has consumed.

First, the catacombs are deep in the ground...as if they are walking into a grave.  Fortunato is not so fortunate as it is, indeed, his grave. Montressor also describes his family's coat of arms and the motto on the crest:  "No one insults me with impunity," suggesting that he considers himself insulted by Fortunato.  As they descend deeper into the earth, the room is lined with bones.  Definitely not your more accommodating decor.  As Fortunato seeks a casket from which the bones came, he steps into a recess and Montresor immediately chains him to the wall.  Yikes!  At this point, Montresor begins bricking Fortunato into the wall and teasing him about all the opportunities Montresor gave him to go back.  If it weren't for the ever-elusive Amontillado, Fortunato might have remained alive.  In addition to this, the catacombs are described as damp and probably musty.  Montresor makes a comment about how the bones haven't been disturbed in half a century, so we know the catacombs are lonely, frightening, and will be the final resting place of Fortunato.

 

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The Cask of Amontillado

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