Often times within literary history, authors have chosen to rely on unreliable narrators to add a veil of mysticism and sympathy to their twisted plots. Numerous authors attempt to make the reader believe that the unreliable narrator is in desperate need of compassion and understanding; however, Poe uses unreliable narrators to twist about the reality of the tale just enough to make the reader doubt everything within the story. This technique, employed by Poe in many of his works, adds a layer of mystery and uncertainty that becomes expected within his unique storylines. No author knows “twisted plots” more so than the morbid and abnormal Edgar Allen Poe. In his story, “The Black Cat, Poe uses an unreliable narrator to intensify the story by making the plotline doused with sporadic moments of truth in order to truly create a fine line between what is the truth and what is not.
The story, written roughly 6 years before Poe died, is one of the more prominent examples of an unreliable narrator within Poe’s collection. The reader, in the beginning of the story, is told by the narrator himself that he is thought to be an unreliable narrator, by way of his assumed mental instability.
For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence ().
The unnamed narrator states that he is not expecting anyone to believe the extraordinarily strange story that he is about to recount; however, he proceeds to lay out the events as he saw them. Further into the story the reader finds out exactly why the narrator is not to be trusted – he is an alcoholic. The narrator begins fighting his inner demons and losing. His battle with alcoholism makes the narrator’s seemingly lovely story into one of Poe’s trademark horror story very rapidly.
One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my waistcoat- pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity ().
The narrator describes that, in his intoxicated, demon possessed state, he committed unthinkable acts against one of his most beloved belongings. This recollection of his horrific act is meant conflict the reader while once again questioning the narrator’s dodgy credibility. Poe makes the narrator very aware of his actions, the uncharacteristic killing of his prized black cat, in an attempt to reconcile the narrator’s...