Psychological Mindsets in the Black Cat, My Last Duchess, and Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Topics: Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Duke Pages: 6 (2399 words) Published: March 28, 2013
The reality of life is that at some point it will all come to an end. End, one referencing it to when one is pronounced dead. Since death is unavoidable, we must take into account death because it is the finalization of our lives spent on this earth as well as an account of the way we left this world. There are numerous ways that one can leave this world, some die peacefully while others may die by force.The following will reveal the psychological mindsets concerning death as depicted in Poe’s “The Black Cat”, Browning’s “My Last Duchess”, and Dickinson’s “Because I could not Stop for Death”, and the ramifications of perverseness, pride, and eternity In “The Black Cat,” Poe uses perverseness to explain the narrator’s pursuit to murder Pluto, the black cat, and eventually his wife. The narrator had once loved animals, but alcoholism contributed to his change of temperament and irritableness, which led to the abuse of his pets and his wife. His reasoning for gouging Pluto’s eyes out, and then murdering the animal was because it loved him as he rejected it. The narrator had a sense of self-loathing and self-hatred that made him want to continue doing wrong to Pluto, which we identify to be: This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself-to offer violence to its own nature- to do wrong for the wrong’ssake only- that urged me to continue finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute (Poe 138). After the death of Pluto, another cat who resembles Pluto, but with an added splotch of white fur becomes the narrators’ new pet, which fills the void of the narrator’s loss of Pluto. The new cat begins to disgust the narrator: “By slow degrees these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred…I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence”(Poe 140). The narrator doesn’t inflict harm on the cat for a while because it reminds him of Pluto and his evil deed. Although, the narrator feels shame and guilt he is not remorseful of his actions due to his perverse spirit because really: “Evil thoughts became my sole inmates-the darkest and most evil thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and all of mankind…” (Poe 141). The narrator’s soul, which is full of madness and hatred, led him one day while his wife came with him to run some errands into the cellar, to attack the cat in rage. The cat had somehow made the narrator trip as he followed them into the cellar and this ignited fury from the narrator’s soul. His wife stopped his attempt to hit the cat with an axe and because of his wife’s actions, his madness shifted: “Goaded by the interference into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain” (Poe 141). Poe uses the principle of perverseness in many of his other works as well as “The Black Cat” to portray: “To an ambiguous balancing of forces of attraction and repulsion (the seductive pull towards self destruction)” (Ketterer 28). This is the reason why the narrator’s perverse spirit caused him to murder with not much of a thought of remorse, but that he had committed a deadly sin, in which he found comfort in because what he was doing was leading him to his own self-destruction. Also, the narrator can be depicted as a victim to his mind, which led him to murder because when one reads Poe’s stories there tends to be an account where: “the imaging, then verbal expression create the fiend that overtakes the narrator’s reason…. according to the story’s analysis of the souls faculties, the human imagination creates a tangible, readily perceptible being” (Bieganowski 176-177). The narrator can be considered a victim, because the reader can sympathize that he is helpless and sick to the perverse spirit that becomes his...
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