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

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado” is a work of various moods, although most of them are dark and sardonic. Some of the moods presented in the work (which are inevitably also the moods of Montresor, the first-person narrator) are the following:

  • Vengeful, as in the story’s opening sentence.
  • Self-admiring and arrogant, as in the next two sentences:

You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.

  • Hypocritical, as in the story’s second paragraph.
  • Judgmental, as in the story’s third paragraph.
  • Conspiratorial and self-satisfied, as when Montresor explains how he manipulated his own servants: “I had told them that I should not return until the morning.”
  • Comical and condescending, as when Montresor describes the drunkenness of Fortunato: “The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.”
  • Ironic, as when Montresor says, to the man he intends to kill, “your health is precious.”
  • Gothic, as when one part of the dark, gloomy setting is described as follows: “At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious.”
  • Gruesome and horrific, as when the Montresor hears Fortunato awakening before Montresor has completed his scheme to seal Fortunato behind a wall of bricks:

The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man.

  • Terrifying, as when Montresor admits that even he is afraid when he hears Fortunato laughing from behind the bricks: “But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head.”
  • Somewhat blasphemous and irreligious, as when, hearing Fortunato beg that he be released “[f]or the love of God,” Montresor replies: “Yes," I said, "for the love of God!"
  • Smug, as in the story’s next-to-last sentence.


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The Cask of Amontillado

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