The Black Cat

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Edgar Allan Poe wrote that the single effect was the most important aspect of a short story that everything must contribute to this effect. Poe’s short story “The Black Cat” was written trying to achieve an effect of insanity. In this first person narrative the narrator tells of his decline from sanity to madness, all because of an obsession with two black cats. These creatures finally drive him to kill his wife, whose death he unsuccessfully tries to hide. This short story easily achieved the effect that Poe was looking for through the use of description of setting, symbolism, and plot development.

In most cases, the setting is usually very important to a story, but “The Black Cat” relies little on this element. The setting seems to be dark and gloomy, which fits in well with the plot. The setting doesn’t have too much importance, besides the fact that it sets up the plot of the story. This tale could have occurred anywhere during any time in history. This makes the setting the weakest element of “The Black Cat.”

Next, symbolism is always an important part of any of Poe’s stories. The most obvious of symbolic references in this story is the cat’s name, Pluto. Along with being the cat’s name it is also a Roman god of the underworld. Pluto contributes to a strong sense of hell and could symbolize the devil himself. Poe drives the protagonist over the edge as he inserts another black cat of the same appearance and with the same wounds that the protagonist had inflicted upon his first cat. For example, plucking Pluto's eyeball out with a penknife, describing the narrators disease progressing so much as to inflict physical pain on his wife, and all the way to the murder of his wife, which was meant for the second black cat. The loving cat sickens Poe's central character to the point that he eventually kills it. He had taken the family cat and pulled one of its eye's out. Another huge symbolic part of “The Black Cat” is the title itself, since onyx cats have...
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