Betrayal, sociopathic, and murder, are three words that describe our protagonist, Montresor in the story “The Cask of the Amontillado”. In the story there are some quite clear examples of fiendish irony that can and should make a reader feel uneasy. Edgar Allen Poe’s use of fiendish irony in the “The Cask of the Amontillado” makes it horrifying because it makes the reader feel uncomfortable and unable to sympathize with Montresor.
Montresor is a deranged murderer, yet Poe chooses to make him the protagonist of the story, in making him the protagonist it is easier to see some aspects of fiendish irony, that shine through Montresor. One of the first examples of this irony is how Fortunato wants to continue on into the catacombs with Montresor. Unbeknownst to him, he is quite literally killing himself, while the reader wants to just scream out and stop him. ” ‘Come, let us go.’ ‘Whiter?’ ‘To your vaults’ ‘My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature…’ ‘I have no engagement;-come'” (Poe 412). Fortunato wants to continue on, not knowing he is walking to his death. This is dramatic irony because the readers know what is going to happen to Fortunato and wish he would not continue on with Montresor.While Montresor and Fortunato are going through the catacombs, Montresor is using reverse phycology by making Fortunato feel weak and telling him he should return to the surface, and to this Fortunato replies “Enough’ he said; ‘” the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.’ ‘True-true’ I replied” (Poe 413). This is a clear example of verbal irony as Montresor is agreeing with Fortunato, but at the same time disagreeing with him. Fortunato says this and means that he is not dying anytime soon, and especially not of a small cough, while Montresor agrees, he will not be dying of a cough, but instead dying to the hands of Montresor. Finally, one of the examples of situational irony in the story is shown throughout the story when Montresor uses reverse phycology to drive Fortunato forward. A good example of this is when the duo is pushing on through the tunnels when Montresor points out the nitre to Fortunato “‘The nitre!’ I said ‘see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river’s bed…’ ‘Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough-‘ ‘It is nothing,’ he said ‘let us go on'” (Poe 414). Here Montresor uses reverse phycology to make Fortunato continue on, by making him feel like he is weak because of his cough and they must return. Fortunato, being a stubborn and feeling superior deems that they must continue on to the Amontillado! This demonstrates situational irony, because Montresor says he wants Fortunato to go back, but the exact opposite happens and Fortunato urges them both forward. All these three examples demonstrate fiendish irony in that they make the reader feel uncomfortable and are different outcomes than what is usually expected, making them ironic.
Using fiendish irony in the story “The Cask of the Amontillado” added to the horror of the story because it creates a sense of squeamishness and unease, which is what the author, Edgar Allen Poe, was going for. Showing the usage of situational, verbal, and dramatic irony, should help in seeing where and how Poe used his fiendish irony to really make this story a true horror story, that can excite and haunt.