Point of View, Irony and Symbolism in “The Black Cat”
In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat”, the narrator uses alcohol as an excuse for his misbehavior. He emphasizes that he is not crazy and sincerely loves animals, but as the story gets deeper into the plot, you can clearly see that he is mad and the effect his craziness has on his disposition is severe. The reader is introduced to the narrator’s beloved cat, Pluto, and his wife with whom he was very close. Both characters end up getting abused and killed by the narrator who blames the murders on the alcohol and not his corrupted state of mind. The story concludes with the narrator urging the police to find his wife’s body. By the time they do, the narrator has gone completely crazy, still excusing his mental state for his alcohol problem and refusing to take responsibility. Therefore, it is evident that Poe uses certain literary elements to create a theme of, alcohol is a scapegoat used by individuals with an evil nature to excuse inappropriate behavior. Poe conveys this message through point of view, irony and symbolism. First person point of view effectively communicates the theme by showing how the narrator is going mad and how he blames his corrupting mental state on alcohol. Poe firsts uses point of view in the very beginning when the narrator says, “I am not mad” (3). The narrator emphasizes his sanity in order to get sympathy from his readers for his alcohol problem so he can more easily blame his behavior on the alcohol. Since this is in the first couple of paragraphs, the reader can conclude that the first thing Poe wants the reader to know about the narrator is that he doesn’t think he is crazy, almost foreshadowing that his mental state will be in question later. Poe conveys the theme again when he writes, “My disease grew worse – for there is no disease like alcoholism. . . .I grabbed the poor cat by the throat. Then I deliberately cut one of its eyes out of his sockets” (5). The narrator is...
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