Alcoholism and Family Pets

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The effects of alcoholism on household pets
The short story “The Black Cat,” by Edgar Allan Poe, is a tale that focuses on the characters of the narrator, his cat Pluto, his wife, and his relationship with alcohol. The narrator’s alcoholism has a profound influence upon his temperament and creates many tragedies throughout the story. From the very start Poe informs us that this is “nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects” (443).

The first example of this begins by the narrator telling us that he was fond of animals as a child and had many pets. Even his wife likes animals and as a result they had a few, including a cat named Pluto. Pluto and the narrator became fast and close friends for many years, until alcoholism changes the narrator’s demeanor for the worse. This causes the narrator to lash out at his wife, mistreat his other pets, and take one of Pluto’s eyes. After a night of drinking the narrator grabs Pluto stating “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me…I took from my waistcoat-pocket a penknife…and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket!” (444). The effect of this violent act is Pluto’s fear of his once beloved master. This, in turn, leads the narrator to hang Pluto in another fit of rage.

The second series of cause and effect events begins with the narrator feeling some regret over what he has done to Pluto, seeking a replacement companion. In another alcohol fueled moment while sitting “half stupefied in a den of more than infamy” (445) he decides to McAdams-2

befriend yet another black cat. One that looks nearly identical to Pluto except for a white spot on its chest. In his drunken stupor, the narrator fails to notice one key feature of the newly acquired pet; A feature which will terrify and enrage him. The next morning the narrator notices the new black cat is also missing an eye. The same eye he had taken from Pluto, this feature only made his wife love the cat more, an emotional...
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