Edgar Allan Poe. Essay

2375 words - 10 pages

Edgar Allan Poe became to be one of the most important writers of 19th Century mostly due to his tales and short stories, though he used to see himself mainly as a poet. He wrote about a variety of subjects, but his stories always involve mystery and grotesque images of the dark side of human been. In this essay I intend to briefly analyse the narrators presented in some of the short stories that we have studied and discussed during the classes.Poe's stories usually have participant first-person narrators, but frequently we, us readers, face the dilemma of trusting them or not. This is because Poe's narrators are typically unreliable due to their own limitations or mental disorders. Most of the times, the author demonstrate a deep knowledge of the narrators inner feelings and through irony shows us things that the own narrator may not want to say.The unreliability of the narrator is present in one of Poe's most famous tales: The Black Cat. In this tale, a man in prison relates the facts that leaded him to the murderer of his wife and finally to his condemnation. Throughout the text we see his degeneration by steps into the condition of grotesque perversity. "To-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul." In his cell the narrator has time to reflect on his actions, as a near-death confession, his sincerity and motives are irreproachable. Although is able to intellectualise his problem, he does not perceive the implications of what he says until the end.Poe's narrator attributes his terrible actions to perverseness, to a bad spirit and to alcohol. "one of the primitive impulses of the human heart--one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man...." When the narrator comments that he has offered "violence" to his own "soul" by consummating "the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute", it is clear that he has made an unconscious identification of state of soul with treatment of the brute. The narrator is correct in attributing his perverseness to "a longing of the soul to vex itself"; but what he fails to express explicitly is that he vexes his soul because he comes to neglect half his humanness, the affections, while overemphasizing the powers of the rational, the other half. In doing so he becomes irrational.The cats symbolically reflect the narrator's degeneration as he moves from comparing himself to God, and finally to assuming the power of God. Pluto seems to be a projection of the narrator's affections *"From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition". His pets provide him enjoyment as he feeds and caresses them, and they, especially Pluto, return his attentions. As the story goes on, and the cat's importance as a member of the family grows, so does his symbolic meaning develop. Pluto is identified with the narrator alone: "I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went.... It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from...

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