Edgar Allan Poe and Gothic Imagery in "The Cask of Amontillado"

2286 Words Jul 21st, 2010 10 Pages
ENG 341-Studies in Literary Genres | The Significance of Imagery | In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” |

Lauren Grilli
6/7/2010
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Imagery is described as the ‘mental pictures’ one interprets from reading any type of literature; this can be done using any of the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. Edgar Allan Poe is notorious for his use of dramatic imagery in the gothic genre. “Gothic literature has a number of conventions, including evocations of horror, suggestions of the supernatural, and dark, exotic locales such as castles and crumbling mansions” (Canada, 1997). In this paper, I will examine the imagery Poe has chosen in The Cask of Amontillado, and explain why it is vital to the furthering of
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The suspense builds when it becomes clear Fortunato has no clue about his fate. Montresor informs the intoxicated Fortunato of the Amontillado stored in the vaults below. After a little ego-trip, Fortunato convinces himself he must go and sample this grand vintage wine. As the story progresses, so does Montresor and Fortunato’s hell-like descent into the vaults, and also the “nitre” which “hangs like moss upon the vaults” (DiYanni, 2004). Montresor tells Fortunato “We are below the river’s bed” where “The drops of moisture trickle among the bones” and warns him to “Come, we will go back ere it’s too late” (DiYanni, 2004). The foulness of the air around them had “caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame”, and created a feeling of suffocation (DiYanni, 2004). By using simple but descriptive passages such as these, the reader is transported to the chilly vaults and can feel what the narrator and his companion sense. Every detail of the caves is explored through dialogue and as one scholar noted, “Poe’s strict attention to the geology and chemistry of the subterranean passages of Montresor’s chateau serves a much larger purpose than a simple description, the creation of atmosphere, and the selection of an ideal place to conceal a murder” (Benton, 1991). With the centuries of buried dead around them and the dripping walls, it is literally a place of death and the reader becomes aware of this even
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