From the very first line written in the “Cask Of Amontillado”; “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. ” We are thrust into a ride, much like one you might find at the amusement park or the carnival, with the distinct difference that although this ride is in fact on rails, how it will affect us and how we will interpret the events during is completely up to us.
Edgar Allan Poe does a remarkable job of employing several psychological techniques in his short story ” The cask of Amontillado ” , but I will only focus on one, which even by today’s standards is flawless. The technique is the mystery. Who is Fortunato? What has he done to Montresor that has caused so much emotional and psychological damage? Obviously the answers to these questions will elude and intrigue the audience. So we are instantly on the hook. To find the answers to these questions we must avert more of our attention and interest to the piece at hand.
Poe, now with our utmost and full attention, begins to plunge us into the mind of his protagonist. Not so by simply introducing us to Montresor but instead by showing us his actions, his thoughts, his mannerisms. He accomplishes this by exposing us to Fortunato and the conversations between them that will ensue. On the surface Montresor seems like a normal man with no ill will. Although quickly we begin to learn otherwise. ” My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. So begins the series of dialogues Song 2 and conversations that would appear to be like any other had by two good friends. At first Montresor is nothing but amicable, he compliments his good friends on his looks, dress and even praises his good taste and reputation. ” And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own. ” The audience now fully engaged in the story though the methods of mystery, curiosity and perhaps even endearment or empathy for Fortunato continue to delve deeper into the event unfolding before our very eyes.
Just as the protagonist and the antagonist begin to descend upon the catacombs and the halls of the Montresors manor, so does the conversation and the dialogue taking place between them. ” We will go back; your health is precious. you are rich, respected, admired , beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. ” We are now beginning to be exposed more openly to the sociopathic ways of our protagonist; Montresor. Willingly and cheerfully guiding our poor and still at the moment helpless, Fortunato , as he is still under the spell of Montresor.
When we finally arrive to the depths of the catacombs the reader is now aware that some horrible event is bound to ensure, but the conversation and the presentation made by the writer has now fully invaded the reader. Little by little inch by inch as we descended down through the catacombs, we have been made more anxious, more uncomfortable. Now all the built up tension that has been gathering is ripe for the telling. ” Pass your hand ” Is the cue that signals the reader. We are here, this is where our journey has been leading you, here is the end. Over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. ” It is then that Poe unleashes his “Single effect” all done with a fine attention to detail. The message is clear. you are now here, you will go nowhere, this is where you will rest. Presumably after achieving his single effect the reader will sense a series of emotional responses; ranging from fear to terror to relief. Relief that the built up tension and anxiety has now been released. The ride has finally come to an end and it is now time to go home and think upon the emotions you have felt here today.