The Black Cat
THE BLACK CAT_EDGAR POE ALLAN
The Black Cat-Edgar Poe Allan
The Black Cat, a short story done by Edgar Allan Poe is an interesting story of all times. The story is told from an insane person’s perspective, the narrator whom in his own words expects no one to believe him. Allan Poe’s works command fame in its featuring of violence, dark themes and psychological characters. The Black Cat is a famous literary work that involves a narrator who speaks his mind, though not from a sound perspective. In the Black Cat, for instance, the narrator tells of how uncontrollable, he became to an extent of killing his pet and also murders his wife in her attempt to save the cat from his wrath.
Madness is a trait of the narrator that is manifested in so many ways in the text. The narrator commits and conceals his dirt, but ultimately gets caught based on his own insane condition. Poe has a unique way with which he shows madness in the narration. The theme of madness is also evident in the lack of the narrator’s sufficient reasoning or justification for committing the grisly murder.
The narrator informs the readers that he is to die the next day, a reason that the reader fails to get to the end of the narrative. Setting his narrative from this perspective, the narrator informs the reader about some cat by the name Pluto, a pet that he had as a pet. According to the narrator, his pet is a remarkably beautiful animal that is entirely black. In response to this assertion, the wife jokes that the narrator’s cat might turn out to be a witch itself owing to its unusual intelligence. Additionally, there is a characteristically unique bond that exists between the narrator and his pet. This is attributed to the fact that he takes good care of the pet and this prompts the animal to follow him all over the place. This is a sure instance of a tender relationship between a man and his pet.
As the narration progresses, there is an apparent occurrence where things turn out all wrong. The narrator, being alcoholic, gets angry at each and everyone he comes across. He starts mistreating his wife and even extends his loathsomeness to animals. It is only surprising that of all the things in his cycle, he does not show hatred to Pluto, neither does he harm it. Interestingly, for one night, the narrator comes back home, drunk as he always does, and thinks that he is avoided by his favorite cat, Pluto. He tries to grab the cat in a way that would make it hurt him, which it surely does. This spells doom for the cat as he cuts off one of the eyes of the cat.
A sure proof that alcohol can cause tremendous damage to a person, the narrator becomes sorry after having slept off and gotten back to sanity. He feels so sorry about all he did and regretted it all, but this is not a thing to stop him from further consuming the alcoholic contents. The eye sockets of Pluto heal, but this does not repair the broken relationship between Pluto and the narrator. Just as he alleged initially, Pluto now starts avoiding the narrator at all times. Just as it would be expected for the narrator to feel remorseful, he does the opposite and shocks the readers how he thinks of the cat. He instead feels furious and irritated at the behavior as portrayed by the cat.
Shockingly, the narrator hangs his pet from a tree. On that fateful night, his house hot raised down by an inferno. Fortunately for the narrator, his servant and wife, they all escape this tragedy unharmed, but his possessions all get burnt down. As magic would have it, the narrator of the story comes back and sees the figure of his pet on his only surviving wall. After a couple of months, the narrator sees some cat that is remarkably similar to the one he had, his only Pluto that he so misses. This cat follows the narrator home and he seems to develop some affection for the cat. This feeling is, however, short-lived as the affection does not last. The narrator does not seem to like the cat anymore. The fact that prompts hatred for the cat is the revelation that the cat, just like his former pet has a missing eye.
There are contrasting events in the narration. It occurs that the more the narrator hates his new pet, the more the pet likes him. The narrator is also tied since he cannot under whatever circumstances, hurt the cat for the mere reason that he fears it. The cat bears a white mark on its chest that serves to remind the narrator of his dreadful act towards his pet, Pluto. The narrator gets overwhelmed with his guilt that he feels like taking away the life of this new guest in the block with the help of an ax. The wife swiftly intervenes to calm him down. In this attempt, the narrator murders his wife, and resorts to concealing the body in the house, just behind his basement.
After three nights, the narrator sleeps without being disturbed by the cat. This, however, happens after he looked for the cat and gave up on it. The police come to his house to ask about his wife’s whereabouts. As he faces a thorough grill from the authorities, the narrator tries to rap on the wall, he rebuilt in an attempt to conceal the corpse of the wife. As useful as the cat can be to the police, the narrator causes the cat to come out of its hiding place, an act that reveals the corpse of the narrator’s wife.
The above instances qualify madness as a theme in the narration since the rationale and the unreasonable points that the narrator gives for his committing of murder does not justify the murder. The theme of madness is also depicted in the narrator lacking the rationale behind his attack of the cat, which he proceeds to kill. Having intoxicated himself with alcohol, the narrator comes back and tells his reason for killing the cat as being what he felt about the cat. In his own confessions, he says that he fancied the cat was avoiding his presence. It baffles to note that the narrator gets irritated by the fact that his cat avoids him to an extent of doing the unthinkable. This vast amounts to insanity, but in a rather fair term, the narrator would be described as being unnecessary and excessively paranoid.
Under ordinary conditions, no upright person would go to an extent of violently reacting with an animal for the mere reason of evasion. As far as human psychology is concerned, avoidance is a trait that is only associated with humans and it would baffle to imagine that a human being would contemplate doing such an unthinkable. This violent reaction by the narrator plus his venting frustrations he directs towards the animal is a sure indication that he is mentally unstable. The conditions on which the narrator operates is far beyond his control and understanding. The thought of him being in such a state must be so disturbing to the narrator.
It also occurs that the narrator goes ahead to confess his actions, something he does to portray his mental state. For example, the narrator says, “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer” (Black Cat 65). After this instance, he expresses his confessions for the wrongs he committed, for instance, for killing the cat. He says that he blushes, he shudders and burns while penning his damnable atrocities. Interestingly, after his confessions, the narrator still feels the urge to go after the cat and eventually kills it. This is a sure demonstration of pure madness. The madness of the narrator is demonstrated by the fact that the narrator violently attacks the cat that he protested to have loved and sees its death. He kills it even after having felt sorry for his violent attack on the animal.
In conclusion, The Black Cat’s narrator could be given some benefit of the doubt for having presented what would be considered valid reasons for the madness he exhibited. He says that he was overcome by rage and perverseness that, morally, is a wrongdoing for his bad behavior.
Kwee, A. H. K. (2014). A Psychoanalysis on Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cat (Doctoral dissertation, Program Studi Pendidikan Bahasa Inggris FBS-UKSW).
Poe, E. A. (1980). Instinct vs Reason—A Black Cat. The Unknown Poe: An Anthology of Fugitive Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Raymond Foye. Ed. San Francisco: City Lights, 65-67.
Poe, E. (1986). Allan, “The Black Cat “. The fall of the House of Usher and other Writings, London, 320-329.
Torres, M. J. (2010). The Phosphorescence of Edgar Allan Poe on Film: Roger Corman’s” The Masque of the Red Death”. The Edgar Allan Poe Review, 182-191.
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