The idea that the carnival is jolly and fun and the rest of the story is dark is a huge contrast in moods which unsettles the reader and could be regarded as ironic. An example of the theme of disguise is noticeable when Montressor leads Fortunato away from the carnival as he is “putting on a mask of black silk. ” This is the point at which Montressor seems to change from Fortunato’s enemy into the murderer. We think of this black cape as a stereotypical murderer’s costume because of old plays and early films where the villain would always be dressed in a black cape.
The costume of Fortunato is also very important. Fortunato is dressed in a jesters costume and throughout the story he is entertaining Montressor without realising. Another technique Poe uses aswell as the contrast in moods and characters to create atmosphere is the line which illustrates the long journey to Fortunato’s death,-“We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on and descended again, arrived at a deep crypt which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame. ” This is a lengthy sentence which suggests to the reader that Fortunato is being dragged to his death.
The technique of repetition is used -“descended, passed on and descended again. ” This gives the impression they are travelling deeper and deeper underground, which creates an unsettling atmosphere because of the remoteness and isolation. It also symbolises a journey to hell because soon Fortunato is to be tortured like people are said to be in hell. As they descend Montressor continuously reminds Fortunato that if he is not well enough to go down into the catacombs, there is always Luchesi. But Fortunato is too proud to give up and let his opponent win.
This creates frustration for the reader because Fortunato is acting like a fool and he is too nai?? ve to realise that Montressor really wants him to go down into the catacombs. The emotive language used such as “foulness” makes the story more dramatic and grips the reader. The fact that the “air caused the flambeaux rather to glow than flame,” tells us there is a shortage of oxygen, so it could have well have been hard to breathe which in my opinion would be ghastly. Throughout the story there are many other examples of symbolism.
One of these is “A huge rampant foot in a field d’azure; the foot crushes a serpant rampant whose fangs are embedded in the heel. ” This points out the way in which Poe wants to crush Fortunato as if he’s a snake. I think he uses this line to make him seem very powerful and to make Fortunato seem very small and inferior because it says it as if he can easily kill Fortunato. When Montressor mentions “the web work which gleams from these cavern walls”- it symbolises claustrophobia and the fact that later in the story Fortunato is to be trapped in a recess like an insect trapped in a spider’s web.
Similar to the symbolism another way creates a tense atmosphere is when Fortunato replies to Montressor “You? Impossible! A mason? ” The punctuation shows disbelief and the short, sharp phrases add to the tension. By saying this Fortunato is definitely irritating Montressor, so when I read this I felt problems might arise. Shortly before this event an evil theme is emphasised in the image of “the drops trickling along the bones. ” This composes a gruesome theme which uneases the reader.
A theme of revenge follows the evil theme composed in the line “throwing the links about his waist it was but of a few seconds to secure it. ” This portrays a horrific mood because it shows that Montressor has planned the murder down to the last detail which is an act of revenge. This follows on the last theme which is focused on which is torture. A quote which symbolizes this is “finished without interruption the fifth, sixth and seventh tier. ” This is a shocking way to torture someone, especially because of the size of the catacombs making the sufferer very isolated.
Another way Montressor makes the murder of Fortunato ghastly is the way he plays many sick jokes for example when Fortunato is chained to the wall and he says, “once more let me implore you to return. ” I felt great sympathy towards Fortunato at this point and more so when Montressor begins building the wall. In my opinion the most horrific part of the story is when Montressor writes, “I finished without interruption the fifth, sixth and seventh tier,” because I can’t imagine how claustrophobic and bone chilling it would be to be buried alive.
The fact that Montressor was enjoying himself and felt proud makes me hate his character strongly because I don’t know how he could murder Fortunato and not feel at all guilty. When I read this story I was shocked at the impact it had on me. Poe’s descriptions of the catacombs and the techniques he used really made you feel as if you were there. The horror of the story makes me feel ashamed that I was so gripped to it and I enjoyed it so much!