The Black Cat, By Edgar Allan Poe

941 words - 4 pages

In most stories, the reader relies on a narrator to relay any information required to understand the events occurring in the story being told. In the case of Edgar Allan Poe's “The Black Cat”, the narrator presents a story of his past as he believes it happened to him. It is unfortunate however, that the narrator comes off as quite unreliable. Not only does he constantly repeat notions of his sanity, but he often displays extreme and irrational emotions, and presents his story in a pseudo-logical manner that manifests itself in his rambling narration and unexplainable actions.
The narrator begins his story by stating, “mad am I not”(1). By telling his story, he is attempting to find, “...some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.”(1). He wants the reader to tell him that he is, in fact, not mad. Throughout the story, the narrator never takes the blame for any of the atrocities he commits, instead he places the blame on alcohol. He makes claims to say that because of his drinking, his very spirit would leave his body and that would just take control of his body. The narrator also states a number of times that large amounts of alcohol were imbibed prior to telling the reader of some other horrible thing he had done. A drunk is not capable of being reliable enough to tell a story accurately. However, it is quite unclear as to whether the narrator's personality was not already disturbed to begin with.
At the start of the narrator's story, he says that since he was young, he had always been tender and compassionate. He adored animals, so his parents provided him with many pets to care for. His fondness for animals even continued into adulthood. After he married, his wife also provided him with a number of loving pets, including birds, a goldfish, a dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a black cat. This black cat, named Pluto, is actually one of the central focuses of the story. By telling all this to the reader before continuing into the bulk of his tale, he is trying to instill upon them a sense that he is a good person and that he actually really likes all animals, despite events that unfold in later pages.
The fist of these occurrences is that of when he kills Pluto. The narrator stresses that he had no real reason to hate Pluto, and continues by claiming, “My soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my...

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