What are some examples of mood and tone in "The Cask of Amontillado"?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The mood is psychologically disturbing as is made clear by Montresor's choice to sit "down upon the bones" and listen to the lament of Fortunato's "low moaning cry" and the "furious vibrations of the chain":

I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel,...

The narrator is obviously disturbed, bitter and hateful: "A thousand injuries I had suffered" he exclaims in the opening sentences. Then Montesor gives a psychotic justification for his actions against wrongs that must be redressed and avenged.

With his obsessive hatred he always explains to the reader how well he has prepared his plan. Then, when Fortunato makes the sign of a Mason, Montesor returns with a bizarre movement and laughs, enjoying his sick pun on stone mason. Later, as he gently lures his unsuspecting victim into a dark, narrow recess in the granite catacomb wall, Montesor fetters his victim to the granite rock wall with the steel of chain and padlock.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Author Edgar Allan Poe mixes several moods in his short story "The Cask of Amontillado." Outside of Montresor's home there exists the "supreme madness of the carnival season," where Montresor's servants have headed for a night of celebration. It is from this madness that Fortunato comes, hoping to further his drunken state with a taste of the rare Amontillado. But within Montressor's palazzo their exists a state of deadly seriousness. He has planned Fortunato's death carefully, luring the victim deep into the gruesome depths of the catacombs, where centuries of bones are strewn about the bottles of wine that also are stored there. Fortunato does not foresee the danger that awaits him, nor does he recognize the irony of some of Montresor's comments, such as the double meaning of the trowel and Montresor's agreement that Fortunato will not die of a cough. Poe maintains an ominous mood as well: We know that Montresor plans to kill Fortunato, but we don't know how until the end.

gabgolly | Student

The mood in "The Cask of Amantillado" is largely established through the setting. The time, the last night of Mardi Gras, hints at the deprivation and "end of the party" to come. Fortunato's costume denotes his foolish mistakes as he is lured into his final gruesome end. Which is indeed the end of a long, dank, musty, corridor through the catacombs containing the moldering remains of the Montresor ancestors. The torch lighting, and crumbling facades remind the reader that it is a dark and unvisited place. A place where no one will ever find the unfortunate Fortunato.

The tone of the story is one of dark sarcasm and horror. Montresor hints at Fortunato's end with his not so funny jokes about the trowel he carries and with his cynical attitude that Fortunato will fall easily for his manipulative techniques of suggesting he go ask a different expert rather than bother Fortunato. The horryifying links that Montresor is willing to go to exact revenge is intended to be more than the reader can accept and yet the reader is forced to admit that they enjoy the fall of Fortunato. This leaves the reader feeling a bit guilty and horrified at their own manipulation.

Read the study guide:
The Cask of Amontillado

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question