Poe as More Than Fiction: The Man, The Narrator and Real Life

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Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Black Cat” is among his most chilling and best-known short stories. Poe himself was a mystery in many ways. It was only after his death that his work became the focus of literary studies, scholarly research, and popular esteem. In many ways the protagonist in Poe’s “The Black Cat” resembles character traits exhibited by Poe. As the story begins the reader follows the narrator’s story through flashbacks from prison of how he killed his wife and attempted to kill his cat. The unnamed narrator reveals that “From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition” (Poe, n.d., 3); Poe’s temperament was the opposite; from a child, he had a sharp intellect and in his teen years, he developed a sharp sense of superiority and pride as he united with the Southern slave owners of his day (Quinn 24-27). However, similar to the narrator, Poe endured struggles of being orphaned at the age of three and never fully gaining acceptance from the community in which he resided. The narrator focuses more on the struggles endured throughout his life that led to his incarceration. Similar to the narrator Poe also exhibited struggles in his life. Poe was discharged from his university after being unable to pay gambling debts (Brandeis University, n.d.). Despite this event, Poe was able to carry on with his life. In contrast, the narrator became stuck in the life events that ultimately defined his future. The narrator in the story married young. He and his wife shared an ardent love of animals. Poe also married his wife Virginia at a young age. Yet the narrator is not happy married as demonstrated when he states, “I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife” (Poe, n.d., 4). Initially the narrat... ... middle of paper ... ...thor Edgar Allen Poe. The narrator and Poe both began the world with struggles. Both men suffered a sense of loss that affects them in two different ways. The narrator in the story fails to accept responsibility for his alcohol problem. Instead, the narrator projects losses associated with alcohol onto his cat. Poe was further known to have mood swings and drink alcohol excessively after the death of his wife. Despite similar beginnings, both men choose two different fates. Works Cited Anonymous. Edgar Allen Poe. Brandeis University. 17 December 2010. Joyce. "Did Edgar Allan Poe Die of Rabies, and Not Booze? Spurning Liquids Hints Horrific End." Washington Times (1996). Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. New York : D. Appleton-Century Company, 1941. Poe, Edgar Allen. Edgar Allan Poe: The Black Cat. Prod. The Online Books Page.
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