The Black Cat By Edgar Allan Poe Essays

The Black Cat By Edgar Allan Poe Essays

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A master of the human psyche with the ability to dissect it down to its most basic form, Edgar Allan Poe left the world with some of the darkest, most tortured characters in literature. His characters are not innately evil, or live with the intent to cause harm but instead are people that are living a seemingly normal life. Poe was able to tap into the human condition through characters who took their inner darkness to their chilling end. His stories and characters within them are fascinatingly removed from the lives of the ordinary man but with enough links to engage the reader to question the humanity (or inhumanity) in all of us. Poe’s The Black Cat (1843) takes the reader on such a journey, with a conclusion that leaves the reader confused and questioning how easily a person could fall so deeply into inhumanity under the simple influence of alcohol.
An unnamed narrator opens the story only referring to himself as “I” and is attempting to chronicle the events that led to his imprisonment and impending death. Presenting himself as a shy, passive, introverted child whose former self would never have been found in jail “From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition”(695), and who was fonder of animals then people eventually growing into a man who felt the same. The early introduction of his introversion allows the reader to see a man who has repressed his ability to deal with the human condition of emotions by limiting his interaction with other people. The narrator justifies this inability to relate to other human beings and preferring animals above all others;
To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and
Sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining
the na...


... middle of paper ...


...o the narrator, that he is no longer able to repress his rage towards him. The “Fiend Intemperance” causes him to lose his sanity when Pluto scratches him. “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin nurtured thrilled every fibre of my frame” (696). He grabs the poor cat and carves out its eye in his moment of rage. Poe’s reuse of “fiend” when referring to alcohol reinforces just how devilish and life changing it can be. One can interpret his treatment of Pluto as a self-inflicted wound, as punishment for his partial blindness in regards to how his alcohol abuse has led him to lose his moral compass. The carving out of Pluto’s eye proves to be a seminal moment in the story, and haunts the narrator, only accelerating his insanity.

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