There are many elements in a story, such as characters, plot, conflict, resolution, and setting (here). All these elements are essential in a story, but the most important element in a gothic story is the setting. In a gothic story, the setting helps to reinforce the atmosphere or mood of the story. Many authors use setting to carry specific feelings that were taken on by the character’s surrounding. It also subconsciously serves to prove the character’s intentions in the story.
To create a sense of terror in story, there needs to be a wide range of elements such as terror, despair, decay, or death. These elements contribute to a gothic setting. In “The Cask of Amontillado” Edgar Allen Poe uses grimdark, dream like or nightmare setting that is daunting, this connects the important theme of the story, being revenge, death or the threat of death, deception, and isolation.
The horror begins in the beginning of the story “The Cask of Amontillado”, when a man named Montresor announces his intentions to take revenge on his friend Fortunato, who has no knowledge of having ever offended him.
The reason for Montresor revenge is not because his claim that he has endured “the thousand injuries” (Poe,866) that his friend has committed towards him; his enemy has “ventured upon insult (Poe,866),” and Montresor can no longer endure anymore and “vowed revenged” (Poe,866). The horror continues when Montresor carefully planned and plotted his revenge. To avoid suspicion the man seeking revenge behaves pleasantly and treating his victim kindly.
He also plots his revenge during the carnival season, where he knows Fortunato will have his guard down and where others are less likely to interrupt his well-planned revenge to lure him to the catacombs. The fundamental horror of the story is the setting. There are four settings in the story, that add to the atmosphere of horror constructed into the story: the unknown beginning setting where the perpetrator is telling his fifty-year-old secret to; the second setting at the carnival; the third setting at catacomb where Montresor’s family is buried; the fourth setting is the last destination “the most remote end of the crypt”(Poe,869.)
The carnival setting, “it was dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend” (Poe.866). When the Poe the author, uses the setting of the carnival compared to the catacombs, the fear and horror is heightened. The contrast becomes complete. Like any person would be, Fortunato is happy at the festival, he is enjoying himself, drinking, and being carefree, so he is characterized by the cheerfulness of the festival. The catacombs, on the other hand represent Montresor, who is not cheerful or celebrating, and hiding a dark and deadly revenge for his friend Fortunato. While in the carnival setting, people dressed with costumes of festivity (the man wore motley… on a tight-fitting part striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells) and noise and laughter and enjoyment all about, Montresor’s brought up conversation about the pipe of Amontillado seems to be out place for a carnival night, starts the descent into ironic, satirical cruelty disguised as carnival liveliness: anything may be allowed on such a night, even descent into death.