Symbolism In Poe's The Black Cat

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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…show more content…
But this character ends up doing the most unimaginable things. He abuses, harms and kills his favorite pet and later ends up killing his wife. Perhaps what is most horrific about the story is the ease with which the narrator describes his deeds. The narrator is frequently contradicting himself. He used to be docile but later turned murderous. He had regret and even shame about harming his cat but later feels fine about having murdered his wife. The fact that he can commit these dreadful deeds in cold-blood is very…show more content…
The first cat is a completely black cat. In fact, the narrator mentions that his wife said the same about the cat jokingly. This is an allusion to the historical myth about black cats. The narrator tries to give the impression that he is not superstitious and doesn 't believe these stories. But as he develops a progressively hateful attitude toward this cat that he once loved, one wonders whether he truly believed the myth. (By the way, black cats are in fact lucky as the gene that makes them all black [called melanism] also reduces their risk of disease. Cats with melanin are the opposite of albino cats that are all white. The reason for their color is the same; it has to do with the amount of melanin in their skin and hair).
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