English II H
Short Story Essay
Edgar Allan Poe was an author of short stories and poetry in the nineteenth century. As such, Poe had a very clear idea of what he deemed to be the perfect short story, as detailed in his review of Hawthorne’s Twice Told Tales. In the review, Poe argued that every aspect of a short story must contribute to the effect that the piece intends to convey. Poe’s prose, “The Cask of Amontillado,” exemplifies this notion of effect through graphic depictions of moral shock, horror, and suspense. One manner in which Poe conveys this effect of shock, horror, and suspense is through the details of setting in the piece. The brutal first-person narration of the work also assists in the achievement of the effect of moral astonishment, revulsion, and tension. The final addition to the effect of trauma, terror, and anticipation is the irony, both dramatic and verbal, woven throughout the work. These three elements are compiled throughout the story so that every aspect creates Poe’s desired shocking, horrifying, and suspenseful effect. The setting of Poe’s grim tale, “The Cask of Amontillado,” is dark and eerie, intended to horrify, traumatize, and create unfathomable tension. The most horrific aspect of the Italian locale is the dark, claustrophobic feel of the catacombs in which the story takes place. However, this effect becomes more prominent due to the contrast apparent in the setting within the first pages of the tale. “Carnival season,” in which Montresor, the murderer, first encounters his “friend,” Fortunato, is a season of celebration and “warmth.” Because of the festivities, Fortunato is dressed in “motley,” with “tight-fitting parti-striped dress” and a “conical cap and bells.” From the first encounter, Fortunato is fashioned as the light-hearted fool of the piece, which contrasts greatly with his bitter demise. In addition, “carnival season” directly precedes the forgiveness of sins, indicating...
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