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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” This quote by Edgar Allan Poe

exemplifies the control he has over the language to grasp his audience’s interest. Poe is well

known for his poems, but he also wrote several short stories. One short story he wrote, called

The Cask of Amontillado, has recently been made into a film. While both versions of the short

story create mood in a complex way, Poe does it in a way that is more effective than Joyce

Chopra through the meaningful words he chooses to use.

In Poe’s short story, he masterfully expresses the mood through the setting, sensory

images, descriptive words, and the rhythm of language. An example from the text illustrates

this, when the two men are walking in the depths of the catacombs: “We are below the river’s

bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones” (7). Through the descriptive words Poe

uses to describe the setting, a creepy, dark, and damp mood is created. In the quote, Poe makes

an analogy to blood without even using the word itself, and by doing that he builds up suspense

and adds to the creepy mood. Another example of Poe’s brilliance adds to the dark and creepy

mood by using techniques like sensory images, the setting, and rhythm of the language: “Its

walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great

catacombs of Paris” (7-8). Poe uses the rhythm of the language, in a poetic way, to catch the

reader's’ interest as he uses words that do not quite seem right, but have a deeper meaner than

one might think of at first. His use of the words, “fashion” and “Paris” and “human remains”

don’t typically belong in the same sentence. The quote also helps paint a picture of the setting,

only adding to the overall creepy mood. In these ways, Poe creates layers to his writing, making

it deeper than a film could ever be.

Throughout the film version by Chopra, mood is created through sounds, lighting, and

camera placement. In my first example, the two dressed-up men arrive at a dark, uninhabited

home. The director uses sound as the door into the catacombs creaks open, music as there is an

obvious change in the anticipation created from and speed of the music, and lighting as the only

lighting shown is a fire and candles; all of which add to the dark, uncertain, and revengeful mood

of the scene. Interestingly, the fire is the main source of light in the room, which can be

compared to the hatred the main character has as he seeks brutal revenge. A second example

happens within the catacombs when Fortunato, the victim, is tricked by wine into a trap. In the

scene, the camera placement and angle is chosen in a way that shows a skeleton lying in front of

the two men conversing. Sound was also utilized when a wine bottle crashed open and through

the suspenseful music. Dark, dim lighting was chosen, as well, only adding to the overall

deceptive atmosphere. Utilizing all three of these techniques, Chopra was able to produce a

mood of darkness and deception. Even though Chopra used various techniques in a thoughtful

way, she was not able to create a mood that was as effective.

Both the text and the film effectively create mood, but through the endless opportunities

that Poe could create mood with words and one’s own imagination, the written story more

effectively creates mood. Poe uses descriptive words, sensory images, and poetic language to

add in rhythm of language to create the mood of a story; while Chopra uses camera placement,

various sounds, and darkness to create the mood. Edgar Allan Poe’s profound gift for writing

makes his techniques for creating mood the most effective. No matter what medium is being

used, different techniques are employed to create mood, the feeling and atmosphere of a story

that assists the plot to drive the audience to watch and the reader to read on.