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'The Black Cat' by Edgar Allan Poe

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Introduction

'The Black Cat' by Edgar Allan Poe 'The Black Cat' by Edgar Allan Poe is an American classic. It was first shown in the 'United States Saturday Post' on August 19, 1843. It is about a man that loses his sanity because of one cat. Poe wrote this story after his wife's and his mother's death. The narrator is self-destructive by killing or hurting all things that loved him and alcoholism. After a while he recognizes his self-destructiveness. As the story begins, the narrator is in jail awaiting his execution which will take place the next day, ("But tomorrow I die") for the brutal murder of his wife. From this point, the rest of the story is told in flashback. Although several characters are mentioned in this story, the true focus lies on the narrator who is left nameless. He was especially fond of animals, and he was pleased to find that his wife shared a similar fondness for pets. They had many pets including, "...birds, gold fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat." The cat was a large, beautiful animal which was entirely black. ...read more.

Middle

Superstition has it that Satan and witches take the form of black cats. It is believe that they are symbols of death, sorcery and witch craft. The narrator calls his cat Pluto, which in Greek mythology was the "god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld". I think that Poe included this subtle detail for those who understand will link this with the fact that the cat appeared to be performing some kind of supernatural activities. As in other Poe stories ("The Tell-Tale Heart"," The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Gold Bug"), mutilation appears. The narrator of "The Black Cat" first becomes annoyed when Pluto "inflicted a slight wound upon (the) hand with his teeth." After he is bitten by the cat, the narrator cuts out its eye. Poe's use of words leads the reader from one event to the next ("one night," "one morning," "on the night of the day," etc.). Within the first few paragraphs of the story, the narrator says that he will violently harm his wife "I even offered her personal violence". We don't know whether the story is based upon "an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effect," or are they caused by the supernatural? ...read more.

Conclusion

I had walled the monster up within the tomb." At the beginning of the story, the reader is told that the narrator appears to be a happily married man and was always kind and gentle; "From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions". He blames his downfall to the "Fiend Intemperance" and "the spirit of perverseness." Perverseness, he believes, is "...one of the primitive impulses of the human heart." "Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a stupid action for no other reason than because he knows he should not?" Perverseness provides the rationale excuse for unjustifiable acts, such as killing the first cat or rapping with his cane on the plastered-up wall where his dead wife lay behind "...already greatly decayed and clotted with gore." The reader is led to believe that the narrator was actually a good man. But due to the events throughout this story, he has drastically transformed from this 'good man' into an evil man and as he gets dragged down, he takes his loved ones with him. The end ...read more.

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