"The Cask of Amontillado" has an incredibly sinister and creepy tone about it. What's odd for me though is how that tone is delivered. Montresor is the narrator of the story, and he is a chillingly effective narrator, because his narration is incredibly matter of fact. He just doesn't spout off and have emotional outbursts.
Right from the start of the story, the reader is alerted to the overall ominous tone, because Montresor tells his readers that he seeks revenge.
THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.
Revenge is not an emotionless word. Had Montresor told his readers that he sought judgment, I could believe that he would confront his "friend" in respectable, adult-like manner. Or I would even consider that Montresor might use the law. But that is not what revenge connotes. Revenge tells readers that Montresor has a dark and evil plan to punish Fortunato. And not just punish, but he will be punished with impunity.
I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.
Every time I read that line, I picture in my head some Marvel Comics uber villain finishing his plan and giving a maniacal laugh.
The ominous and creepy tone continues throughout Montresor's narration. He tells his readers that he sets his plans into motion at dusk. Not sunset. Not evening. Dusk. Who says that? Dusk is when the zombies climb out of graves and people make deals with the devil. Dusk is an eerie word.
Then Poe really ups the creepy factor by this paragraph:
I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.
It's a good thing for Montresor that Fortunato is drunk, because he obviously doesn't pick up on the ominous situation. He's being led down into a vault, which is where things are hidden and locked away. It's also not just any staircase to a basement. It's a long and winding staircase. Then Poe uses the word "catacombs." That's where dead people are. Why on Earth is the wine down there? Especially since Montresor stated that he had it and wanted Fortunato to try some. If it were anybody else, the wine would have been brought up to the main level earlier in the evening.
Then Poe drops words like "crypt" and "mason." Crypt is creepy for the same reason catacomb is creepy. Dead people are there. As for Montresor being a mason, I've read enough history and conspiracy theories to know that all kinds of questionable deeds have been done by the masons. It's at this point in the story when the reader's intuition starts screaming at Fortunato to get out of there quickly. But of course he doesn't, and Montresor casually buries him alive. It hasn't bothered him in fifty years either.