The most ironic thing we read in “The Black Cat,” is the narrators unstable state of mind. We should know that our first clue to his madness is his intent to assert that he is not. He writes, “Mad I am not” (Poe Black Cat 182), as he begins to pen one of the most insane narrations ever written. It is as if he is trying to convince himself of this lie. His alcoholism only makes matters worse as he wavers between extreme emotions. One moment, he loves the cat and the next moment, he hates the cat. He kills the cat to rid himself of it and, ironically, it haunts him. Of course, we cannot mention the story without mentioning how the narrator kills his wife in an effort to kill the cat. We can say that even this act is ironic because the narrator is so open about how he “buried the axe in her brain” (186). The narrator in this story is positive that that he is not mad. The irony is that he is perhaps one of the most mad of Poes narrators in that he can never bee free from the cat regardless of what he does.
The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat,” illustrate Edgar Allan Poes achievement as a writer. He is not only able to craft terror stories that chill us to the bone but he is able to craft them using irony, a technique that makes his stories even more chilling.
Each narrator in these stories exhibits strange behavior that causes us to pause. Montresor, for his sickening brilliance and the narrator in “The Black Cat” for his complete insanity. Without the irony, these stories would still be good but they would lack that extra punch that hits us in the gut as we read what is happening. The irony of lifes experiences often makes them stick in our memories a little longer and this was Poes goal. He wanted us to remember these narrators for a long time and the way to ensure that we would is by adding a dash of irony to the recipe. We cannot forget because, like the car crash at the side of the freeway, we like to look.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Complete Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Minnesota: Amaranth Press: 1984.
The Black Cat.” Complete Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Minnesota: Amaranth Press: 1984.
Platizky, Roger. “Poes the Cask of Amontillado.” EBSCO Resource Database. Site Accessed August 01, 2008. http://search.epnet.com
Stevenson, Robert. “Literature: The Works of Edgar Allan Poe.” GALE Resource Database. Site Accessed August 01, 2008 http://www.galegroup.com
Winks, Robin. “Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage.” GALE Resource Database. Site Accessed August 01,.