Poe As More Than Fiction: The Man, The Narrator And Real Life

947 words - 4 pages

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Black Cat” is among his most chilling and best-known short stories. Poe himself was a mystery in many ways. It was only after his death that his work became the focus of literary studies, scholarly research, and popular esteem. In many ways the protagonist in Poe’s “The Black Cat” resembles character traits exhibited by Poe.

As the story begins the reader follows the narrator’s story through flashbacks from prison of how he killed his wife and attempted to kill his cat. The unnamed narrator reveals that “From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition” (Poe, n.d., 3); Poe’s temperament was the opposite; from a child, he had a sharp intellect and in his teen years, he developed a sharp sense of superiority and pride as he united with the Southern slave owners of his day (Quinn 24-27). However, similar to the narrator, Poe endured struggles of being orphaned at the age of three and never fully gaining acceptance from the community in which he resided. The narrator focuses more on the struggles endured throughout his life that led to his incarceration. Similar to the narrator Poe also exhibited struggles in his life. Poe was discharged from his university after being unable to pay gambling debts (Brandeis University, n.d.). Despite this event, Poe was able to carry on with his life. In contrast, the narrator became stuck in the life events that ultimately defined his future.

The narrator in the story married young. He and his wife shared an ardent love of animals. Poe also married his wife Virginia at a young age. Yet the narrator is not happy married as demonstrated when he states, “I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife” (Poe, n.d., 4). Initially the narrator appears to be remembering the happier times in his life in which he shared with his wife. Despite this observation, the narrator offers no explanation as to what caused the death of his marriage with the exception of her murder. In contrast, the narrator in the story provides little emphasis on the love he had for his wife. Instead, the main love of the narrator appears to be his love of animals. Despite the love possessed by the narrator, his violent mood swings lead him to commit violent acts. In comparison, Poe was known to exhibit a violent temper. Poe was said to have accused Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of deliberate plagiarism during one of his gloomy episodes of guilt, depression, and drunkenness (Quinn 455-458). Similar to Poe; the narrator relates the fire to the loss of his worldly possessions including his wealth and further elaborates on how the fire contributed to his mood swings and violence. In contrast to Poe, the narrator exposes his violence mainly on his wife. This is demonstrated in the narrator’s statement, “my uncomplaining wife, alas, was the...

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