What is the genre of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Cask of Amontillado?"

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" is written in the genres of Gothic literature, and perhaps pre-horror.

Gothic literature [was] a movement that focused on ruin, decay, death, terror, and chaos, and privileged irrationality and passion over rationality and reason…

Elements of death and terror are present as Montresor leads Fortunato deeper into the recesses of the catacombs in order to bury the man alive. Catacombs were used to store the bones of the long dead: this also lends itself to creating a feeling of the Gothic. Montresor demonstrates irrationality over reason.

When Montresor leads his victim on, the reader is conscious of Fortunato's impaired state, making him more vulnerable to Montresor's grisly plan of revenge, and this is creates a sense of fear and anxiety.

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.

“The pipe,” he said.

“It is farther on,” said I; “but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.”

He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.

Because Poe continued to use the stylistic elements of Gothic writing, he is often considered to have written in that genre.

While many critics suggest that Poe is a post-Gothic writer, he nevertheless uses many of the conventions of the Gothic form in his own work, including medieval settings, supernatural occurrences, terror, and ruins.

Poe's work also has elements of the horror genre, which included...

...moods [such] as dread and anxiety.

It was easier to maintain moods associated with the horror genre in shorter pieces of literature, and certainly Poe's used the short story to its best advantage. The moods he developed often created dread and anxiety in his readers. This can be seen in "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Black Cat." "Horror’s Golden Age" is described as spanning the four decades from 1872 to 1912. So while Poe did not write during this period, his stories could be considered pre-horror.

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