The Cask of Amontillado Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

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What is the setting of "The Cask of Amontillado"? What details of the setting contribute to the horror of this story? The setting of the cask of amontillado

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The story is set largely in catacombs underneath Montresor's home in Italy.

The setting contributes significantly to the horror of the story. It is dark, cold, and damp in the catacombs. Because catacombs are burial vaults, Montresor and Fortunato pass by piles of bones, the remains of dead bodies. Nitre, a chemical irritant to the lungs when inhaled, lines the walls. As Montresor explains to Fortunato:

The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre.

Montresor will later say of the nitre:

It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river’s bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough——”

Montresor's words add to the horror, as the nitre poses a particular problem for Fortunato with his weak lungs. The catacombs also offer a sharp contrast to the revelry of the Carnival, where crowds of people are partying up above. Montresor and Fortunato are all alone in the catacombs, far away from any noise but what they themselves make and far from any possibility of being heard. This creates the perfect environment for Montresor to wall up his enemy.

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dneshan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The setting of "The Cask of Amontillado" is in Italy during the carnival season.  Even more specific than that, the bulk of the plot takes place in the vaults, cellar, or catacombs beneath the home of Montressor, the story's main character and narrator.  The most important detail of the setting that contributes to the horror or suspense of the story is the fact that the two main characters, Montressor and Fortunado, are walking through a vault underneath Montressor's family mansion which holds the dead remains of his ancestors. 

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