.. 75). There seems to no apparent reason the reader can detect for the main character’s obsession and hatred for the cat that causes his own demise. Lastly, how the motive and theme tie together, which is seen in both stories “The Cask of Amontillado”, and the “The Black Cat” is the flawless plan, which in both cases results in main characters downfall. There is no such thing as a perfect crime.
No matter how hard one tries, there will always be some kind of evidence to convict someone of his or her crimes. In both stories, the attempt to pull off a perfect crime results in the main characters ending conflict. In “The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor’s plan is only flawed by the fact that he confesses his murder in the end of the tale. However in “The Shrout 7 Black Cat” he overlooks the fact that he walls the cat with his murdered wife, which causes him to get caught. Use of Irony The last and most easily seen aspects of Poe’s writing is the heavy use of irony. This use of irony is very present in both stories “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat”.
It is this use of irony that makes the story so great. The difference between the two uses of irony in both stories is that in “The Cask of Amontillado” irony seems to be subtler, which sets up and strengthens the ending, whereas in “The Black Cat”, the only use of irony is the ending. In the “The Cask of Amontillado”, there are basically two types of irony present. The first is the irony, which Montresor uses on Fortunado to enable his revenge to take place, and the second is, the irony that follows the pattern of the story (May 79-80). For example, in “The Cask of Amontillado” the first and most obvious use of irony in the story is the fact that Montresor had explicitly ordered for his servants to stay home, so that that he could enact his revenge (May 79). This use of irony is directly engaged by Montresor.
It is seen again to lure Fortunado into his catacomb grave. “..Montresor creates and controls [the irony], – such as urging Fortunado to leave the dangerous catacombs, knowing that the more he urges him to leave the more he will want to stay..”(May 80). The last and most prolific of all the ironies set up by Montresor is the comment that he makes to Fortunado: Among the ironies created and sustained by Montresor are the verbal ironies of telling Fortunado he is “luckily” met, agreeing Shrout 8 with him that he will not die of a cough, and drinking a toast to his long life. Such remarks are understood by the reader as ironic, of course, only after the story has ended and one understands its overall pattern; however, because Montresor has already constructed his plot and thus predetermined its end, he can engage in ironies that give pleasure to him both as he utters them in the past and he tells the story in the present (May 80). On the other hand, the other use of irony is created and sustained by the pattern of the story. For example, Fortunado believes that he is a wine expert, which is used as the lure for him enter the catacombs.
Also, Fortunado is wearing the cap and bells of a fool, a fool who is ironically about to be buried alive (May 80). The last, subtlest, and the greatest of the ironies in the story, is the confession. If we analyze the way the story is written, it starts of telling the story in the first person present, but in the last paragraph, turns to telling the story in the past tense. This change in tense has brought about many hypothesis and theories as to why there would be a change in tense. “We legitimately hypothesize that the listener is a priest and that Montresor is an old man who is dying and making a final confession”(May 80).
Yet this perfect revenge brings about two ironies, both closely related. The first is that, as Montresor is telling the story, and though the climatic ending, he feels that his revenge is just, and feels no remorse for his actions, yet as he describes, after a half century he is confessing to his crimes, which would show sorrow, and forgiveness of his sin. “‘The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had borne as Shrout 9 best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge”(3:1256). The reader has no way of knowing what these “thousand injuries” and the mysterious insult are and thus can make no judgment about whether Montresor’s revenge is justifiable”(May 79). Although this is true, telling the story brings about the second irony.
“Thus, Montresor’s plot to murder Fortunado so delights him by its perfection that in the very telling of it he undercuts its nature as repentant confession and condemns himself in gleeful boast”(May 81). This confession of his crimes and enjoyment of the perfection from which the crime was committed, undermines and negates that fact that he is even confessing to repent his sins. This is the final and ultimate irony: “The Cast of Amontillado” (1846), on the surface a tale of successful and remorseless revenge, we have seen to be Montresor’s deathbed confession, to an implied listener, of a crime that has tortured him for fifty years. At the conclusion of the tale, the apparently remorseless Montresor recounts the sudden sickening of heart he felt at the end ” – on account of the dampness of the catacombs,” he hastily supplies. But ironically his “revenge,” as Montresor himself defines it, has failed on every count (Thompson 174).
The use of irony in “The Black Cat”, however is not purposefully set up by the main character, but by the pattern of the story. Unlike “The Cask of Amontillado”, where Shrout 10 irony is seen from beginning to end in two forms, there is only one use of irony that exists in “The Black Cat”. This use of irony is not seen until the very end of the story. The main characters obsession that builds through the story, which brings about the hatred for the black cat that he owns, makes for the irony. In the end as described in the story, he tries killing the cat with an ax, and is stopped by his wife.
In is obsessive hatred for the cat, and rage that enthralled him by being almost tripped down the stairs by the cat, and because his wife stopped him from killing the cat, the main character buries the ax in the head of his wife. Here is the first part of the irony that exists. The cat with which he is so obsessed with and hates, has brought him into killing his wife, and because of his obsession and hatred for the black cat, the narrator feels no remorse or guilt for his crime. In an attempt to flawlessly hide his crime, he not only wall in his wife’s carcass, but also the hated black cat. This is the set up for the second, and most climatic irony of the story. After investigation into the missing wife, authorities search the narrator’s home, and eventually venture into the basement where both the cat and his wife are walled in. In an attempt to mock the authorities in their fruitless search, the main character knocks on the wall commenting on the well-constructed house.
“That the cat embodies this very image of paradoxical perverseness is suggested by the narrator describes the sound it makes when he raps on the wall: “a howl – a wailing shriek, half of horror, half of triumph, such as might have risen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the damnation”(3:859)”(May 75). The black cat, which he overlooked and buried with his wife, has yet again comeback to haunt him. The black cat’s cry alerts the police that Shrout 11 there is something behind the fake wall, and upon investigation the body of his murdered wife is discovered: In the next, a dozen stout arms were toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to hangman.
I had walled the monster up within the tomb (Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination 349) After analyzing the three aspects of Poe’s writing, style, theme and use of irony, we as readers have a better understanding of not only how to read Poe’s tales, but also the meaning that goes much deeper then the surface of the story. The unique perception that that Poe’s gives his stories enables the reader to identify with the main characters’ thoughts, actions and feeling. Also, the themes he uses, although at times are grotesque, are original, and entice the reader, showing the darker side of the human soul. Lastly, the use of heavy irony gives Poe’s stories an unpredictable edge that keeps the reader coming back again and again to read his Gothic tales. These three aspects of Poe’s ingenious writing make them the literary classics that they are today. Bibliography May, Charles E. Edgar Allen Poe: “A Study of the Short Fiction.” New York: Twayne Publishers, 1981.
78-81. Poe, Edgar A. Tales of Edgar Allen Poe. New York: Books of Wonder, 1991. 51-59. Poe, Edgar A.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination. New Jersey: Castle Book Sales Inc. 339-349. Saliba, David R. A Psychology of Fear: ” The Nightmare Formula of Edgar Allen Poe.” New York: UP of America, 1980.
69,70,79. Thompson, G.R. Poe’s Fiction: ” Romantic Irony in Gothic Tales.” Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1973. 13,14, 99-103, 109,172-174.