The Black Cat
The Black Cat, by Edgar Allen Poe, is a story about a man whose love for animals is overcome by an extreme hatred toward the creatures. What goes around comes around is a saying that would most effectively convey the message of this story because Poe implies that people will inevitably suffer the consequences of their actions. Through the careful construction of plot, the ongoing use of irony, and the rapid development of character, Poe captures the reader’s undivided attention and evokes a wide variety of emotions through this short story
This story is a confession of an atrocious sin told by an old man on his deathbed. The plot begins to unfold as the main character reflects back on his childhood. He recalls having been an animal lover all of his life. A conflict first arises between himself and Pluto, his cat. He becomes angered when the cat rejects him out of fear. However, he quickly resolves this problem by killing the cat. Throughout the story he seems to be having an
inner conflict as well. He realizes how horrible and atrocious his sins are but is unable to feel remorse. While he seems to be an intelligent and virtuous man, he cannot seem to control his violent fits of drunken rage. He also deals with conflict on a more spiritual level. The cat that he has killed is haunting him. He tries to shrug it off as coincidence, but every time he comes up with an explanation for an unsettling event, something else happens. His final conflict is in proving his innocence to the police. He wants to make a statement to the police in such a way as to confess his sin without the police picking up on it. In doing so, he gives himself away.
The multiple ironies of this story make the main character wonder if he is being haunted or if it is all coincidence. The introduction suggests that Poe has had a privileged upbringing and a happy life. He marries a woman with whom he has a lot in common and has a picture perfect life. They both love animals and have lots of them. Then all of a sudden he becomes an alcoholic and begins mistreating his animals and his wife. He cuts his cat’s eye out with a knife and kills the cat soon after. The following day his house burns down. The only wall left standing is in the image of a gigantic cat. They now have to live in poverty. One night, while in a drunken stupor, he
finds a stray cat...