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Arch Fiends And Beautiful Creatures Essay

1706 words - 7 pages

“The Black Cat” was first published in 1843 and continues to be one of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous short stories. Perhaps the reason this story has been in circulation for so long is as Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Words-so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”. Poe certainly possessed the skill of being an effective writer, as is evident in “The Black Cat.” Edgar Allan Poe effectively creates and sustains tension in “The Black Cat” through the use of language, character, structure and symbolism. These various writing techniques are utilized from beginning, middle to ...view middle of the document...

Blamed for this drastic change is character is the instrumentality of the “Fiend Intemperance”. In going from a docile, kind disposition to a moody, irritable one makes the narrator unreliable as he has admitted to the abuse of a substance known to cause mental instability or amplify those instabilities further. This is where the initial conflict enters the story. The narrator himself does not expect anyone to believe him which does not aid in his argument that he is not mad. For the first two pages the tension continues to build because of the narrator's continuous and lengthy justification of events that are not yet known to the projected audience. The narrator's change in character is evident because of his growing resentment towards his wife and pets that he supposedly loved so much. When he abruptly decides to seize Pluto and cut out one of the cat's eyes with a penknife he is metaphorically “sharpening” or revealing his cruelty to the cat. Poe draws upon the fact that pen knives are used to sharpen pens and that when one sense is taken away, others become more heightened, or sharper to show this. In the beginning of the story the language was fairly calm and docile in nature, but on the second page, instead of describing things as “beautiful, happy, caressing, unselfish” (1)The words used to describe things become harsher such as “irritable, neglected, seized , horror, frightful” (2). All of the above elements of the story are skillfully and carefully written to evoke a strong sense of tension that will continue to dynamically develop and carry through for the duration of the story.
In continuation from the beginning of the story, the middle section is where Poe truly thrives in keeping the tension and suspense steady. Surrounding Pluto, examples of irony and symbolism are in abundance. Pluto, being the Roman name for Hades is symbolic of the Underworld and the beliefs that surround it. The irony of the name is that the Underworld or Netherworld is presumed to be a dark, mysterious, unwelcoming place. Since Poe decided to name the first cat Pluto, one can assume that he was named after the darkness and fear that the name evokes in people. Many filler details are at the beginning of the paragraphs in extremely elaborate, lengthy sentences. Where as the most important details are at the end, in shorter, simple sentences. The use of excessive commas makes the story's pace change. It picks up pace as if the narrator was speaking or writing quite quickly. The narrator is becoming increasingly more frantic to tell his tale as the story continues. After the narrator had hung Pluto, his house catches fire and burns to ashes. The cat's bas-relief on the limestone causes the narrator to seek out a “logical” expanation for what happened to which he declares that someone must have taken the cat's hanging body from the tree and thrown it at the wall, to which the ammonia would have caused the shape to appear. This sounds totally sane and plausible...

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