The Effects of Animals in Poe’s Works
Animals have been living alongside humans for all of history, and have been major influences on human life and society. Over time, certain animals have become more than just creatures, but have been turned into symbols by the way people see them or interact with them. For example, a dove has come to represent love or peace, and a lion represents courage. Some animals like these are able to have certain effects on people, based off of what that animal has come to symbolize. In literature, it is common for authors to use animals as a way to convey a certain feeling to the reader. By doing this, an author can make their work more interesting and establish deeper feelings within their audience that normally could not be achieved. The gothic writer Edgar Allen Poe is one author known for using animals in his literary pieces. Poe uses animals, as either symbols or characters in his stories and poems to help strengthen the single effect that his works aim to convey to the reader.
Poe uses animals to provide to the single effect of horror in his short story, “The Black Cat”. In this story, a man succumbs to madness, with the aid of alcohol, and kills his wife. The cat in this story, which is a driving force to his madness, greatly adds to the general feeling of horror that the story gives. Poe’s choice of a black cat as the animal alone adds to the horror, by the fact that black cats are often associated with misfortune and evil things, like witches. Furthermore, the cat’s actions throughout the story contribute to a heightened sense of horror. After the police discover the wife’s dead body in the wall, where the husband had hid it, the black cat is seen eating the corpse. “Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman.”(“The Black Cat”). With the words “red extended mouth” it is shown that...
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