How Edgar Allan Poe Achieves Suspense in the Story "The Cask of Amontillado".
"The Cask of Amontillado is a powerful story of revenge. Montresor, the sinister narrator of this story vows revenge against Fortunato in an effort to support his time honored family motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit (Poe, 1846 pg.198)" meaning "No one insults me with impunity (The Cask of Amontillado pg. 198)". While reading the story the reader quickly becomes aware of the fact that Montresor is not a reliable narrator, and that he has a tendency to hold grudges, and manipulate those around him. Poe writes this story creating suspense for the reader and achieves this through characterization and building of the perfect setting throughout the story. "The Cask of Amontillado" is a case of premeditated murder. Montresor carefully plots out his plan to seek his revenge against Fortunato by manipulating him and leading him down to the catacombs of his palazzo where he will then end Fortunato's life.
Poe writes the story from the perspective of Montresor. Telling the story from Montresor's point of view intensifies the effect of shock and horror for the reader. The first paragraph of the story sets the theme of revenge. "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge .At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely settled .I must not only punish but punish with impunity" (Poe, 1846 pg. 196). At this point Montresor begins to develop the perfect plan for murder.
"I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation (Poe, 1846 pg. 196)." Here, suspense is created through Montresor's and thoughts and actions. The reader is now aware of Montresor's determination to seek revenge and kill Fortunato, however does not have an idea as to when or how the murder will take place.