Setting Analysis in 'The Cask of Amontillado'

Setting analysis is defined as the context in which a narration or story occurs, which includes elements like geographical location, time, physical, and social environments. The primary purpose of establishing a concrete setting in a story is to enable readers to have a comprehensive feel and experience while reading it. Based on the type of writing, its vital to set up various scenes in the writing that the reader can follow. The reader should be able to answer basic questions of why, what, when, where, and how various events occurred. Setting creates the foundation of writing and acts as a guide on the flow of the narration, hence also helps a reader to follow the sequence of events occurrences in a story. The location and time of occurrence of events eventually become the background of writing. To get a clear understanding of a story, whether fictional or non-fictional, its necessary to establish the setting of the writing.

The Cask of Amontillado short story is in the historical error of Italy during the carnival season. Carnival was an ancient tradition in Italy, which occurred before lent. The use of masks to hide one’s face was common, whose aim was to hide social differences. There is a dark history between Fortunato and Montresor, a painful history. In the story, a giant human foot is described, it’s the picture on the shield and into the foot’s heel serpent’s fangs are buried hurt by Fortunato, shows how much Montresor has been hurt. The foot stepping on the serpent indicates act of revenge. However, one-day. Montresor vows to take revenge after being insulted by Fortunato. Yet, Fortunato has no idea. Montresor vows to make an act of hefty revenge on Fortunato, as indicated in the motto ‘No one attacks me with impunity (“Nemo me impune lacessit”) (331). On this fateful night, Montresor baits Fortunato into an underground passage, where their ancestors were buried.

The physical time in the story instills horror and tension in the story. The time of the carnival plays a significant role in the story as it was easy for him to lure Fortunato into the trap. Carnival is a time for celebrating freedom; however, in the story, it was time for confinement, revenge, and murder. It was an appropriate time, as indicated in the story, Montresor’s family members and workers were out for the celebration, making it easy for him to disguise and kill Fortunato. The time of occurrence of murder in the story is described as about dusk; during this time, the celebrations are at the climax. However, dusk in this setting is intended to create a sense of horror and darkness as it is the time during which Montresor takes his revenge on Fortunato (329). The presence of dead bodies underneath creates fear in the story and also a sense of bad thing happening. The description of the underground passages beneath Montresor’s home is terrifying. The place has a significant contribution to the horror of the writing as it is described as dampened, cold, and with minimal lighting. The location creates a horror feel, with the smell of nitre on the walls and the presence of bones, remains of dead bodies. Montresor requests Fortunato to take caution as they walk done the staircase into the dark catacombs. A picture of distress is created as Fortunato starts to cough soon as they enter the catacombs.

The large part of the story scenes are occurring in the catacombs. Significantly the Carnival festival is used in the story, which generally is a celebration of freedom with people wearing masks to hide their social and sexual differences. It is during this time that a contrary picture of freedom is drawn. The alcoholic behavior of Fortunato, who already has weak lungs as he is profoundly affected by the smell of nitre is shown. It is used to indicate a different kind of slavery or imprisonment of a kind away from the freedom being celebrated. However, the catacombs themselves, their dark and damp nature, serves as a clear indication of confinement or slavery. The movement of Montresor and Fortunato is an indicator of movement from freedom, as in the celebrations to slavery deep into the catacombs. Therefore, the narrator creates an emotional shift from being free to feel trapped in the catacombs. Montresor guides Fortunato into smaller and fouler spaces; as they get deeper into the catacombs, the amounts of fresh air diminishes. It certainly affects Fortunato as the cold, damp environment with a nitre smell makes him cough. It is a vivid illustration by the narrator that they deeper they get into the catacombs, the further they move away from freedom.

Finally, Montresor leads Fortunato into a small crypt and lied to him that Amontillado was inside, already drank he fell into the trap, as soon as he stepped inside, Montresor locked him with a chain. A clear indication of imprisonment is shown here, with the use of chain. Montresor continued to seal the entrance of the crypt, brick by brick (333), creating a feeling of helplessness, slavery, and horror. The narrator himself states that he was momentarily frightened due to the screams Fortunato made after being bricked into the wall. This act is one of the most gruesome deeds described in the story, and it’s more terrifying as it occurred on a day full of celebrations for freedom. However, fifty years down the line, the revenge Montresor took on Fortunato was meant to serve him justice and make him get over the pain Montresor had inflicted on him. Contrary to the expectation, the revenge did not free him but rather enslaved him further.

To get a clear understanding of a story, whether fictional or non-fictional, its necessary to establish the setting of the writing. The setting of a story, therefore, forms a critical part of a story, as seen in the Cask of Amontillado. The perfect timing and locations in which the significant scenes of the story are occurring are vividly described. Therefore, allowing the reader to have a feel of the emotions as the story unfolds. Time and place are, therefore, the core elements of any writing and must be clearly and sequentially established to maintain relevance.

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Setting Analysis in 'The Cask of Amontillado'. (2021, Mar 15). Retrieved June 13, 2024 , from

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