Short Story Analysis: The Black Cat
The Black Cat by Edgar Alan Poe is a short story told in a first person narrative, from the point of view of an incarcerated murderer. There are several ways to interpret this story; the reader can also gain insight on the narrator’s state of mind. What I am going to talk about today is how the narrator uses a lot of symbolism and descriptive elements in his story, and in turn, how the reader will interpret the narrator as a person. A few characteristics that will be highlighted are death, psychosis/state of mind of the narrator, and alcoholism.
The narrator admits an alcohol dependency right from the start. “One night, returning home , much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town…”(2). This gives the reader the impression that it is in the narrator’s normal character to be under the influence. The narrator used alcohol as his reasoning for cutting the black cat’s eye out. He then drinks away his guilt and sins with alcohol, “I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed” (3). From these statements, the reader can assume that the narrator is an alcoholic and uses that to blur the reality of his decisions.
Madness is defined as the state of being mentally ill or extremely foolish behavior. In this story it is apparent that the narrator could very well be mentally unstable. He immediately expressed his fondness for animals, he thought of animals as a “principal sources of pleasure” (2). He later gets pleasure from abusing one of his animals, the black cat, by cutting the cat’s eye out with a knife. All because he felt the cat was avoiding him. He later hangs the cat, and then constantly feels haunted by his acts. In a way, the narrator seems enticed by his evil actions. “Evil thoughts became my sole intimates-the darkest and most evil of thoughts” (5). The narrator’s last act of evil is the murder of his wife, when he hits her in the head with an axe. He then immediately thinks of...
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