The Black Cat By Edgar Poe Essay

The Black Cat By Edgar Poe Essay

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“The Black Cat”, written by Edgar A. Poe, has been called “one of the most powerful of Poe’s stories” with a horrific element that just barely “stops short of the wavering line of disgust”. Originally published in 1843 in the United States Saturday Post, this Gothic tale is perhaps also one of Poe’s most extensively analyzed pieces. (Cambell33) Much diversity is seen in the interpretations offered. The black cats are variously conceptualized as symbolic of the narrator’s wife, manifesting the supernatural, representing the narrator’s “intemperance and lost docility”, and reflecting some rapidly diminishing noble facet of the tale-teller’s character or conscience. The narrator himself is described by various analysts as insane, a liar, and a failure as a human being. There has been much disagreement regarding whether certain elements of the story reflect the murderer’s hallucinations or, again, some supernatural occurrence. Edgar Allen Poe uses carefully chosen language and flawless imagery in "The Black Cat" to show that within every individual lie the inherent urge towards perverseness.
This terrifying tale embodies Poe 's ideas about the pathological workings of the criminal mind. Poe believed that criminals are disposed to give themselves away not because of guilt but from the anticipated pleasure of defying moral authority. The narrator seems to relish the notion that his crime of hanging Pluto is a sin "beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God." (Poe437) His otherwise inexplicable act of preventing the police from departing and rapping on the bricks that conceal his wife 's body is driven by the narrator 's desire to "cap" his "triumph."
At the very start of this account, the na...


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...arance to look like the gallows supports the narrator 's growing guilt over his sin.
The narrator foreshadows various things in the story, such as that he will be violent towards his wife. Seeing gallows in the cat 's fur can be both about guilt and also a foreshadowing of the future that awaits him.
In spite of his protestations, he then calmly relates how, thanks to drinking, he tortured a favorite pet and then, after killing it, was haunted by a similar, if not identical pet, which goaded him into a rage more than demoniacal which resulted in him killing his wife. At every stage we question how reliable this narrator is, and whether, in fact, he is sane or insane. Thus it is that one of the central themes or messages of this tale is the way in which Poe deliberately blurs the distinction between sanity/insanity and explores the mind and psychology of a killer.

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