The Dualism of Humanity in "The Black Cat"

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Good and evil, The Black Cat Pages: 3 (1015 words) Published: May 25, 2012
The Dualism of Humanity in “The Black Cat”
In Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Black Cat”, the theme of doubleness is prevalent throughout the narrator’s recounted story. Specifically, ‘doubleness’ is demonstrated by the narrator’s dualistic character while indulging in alcoholic intemperance. Though the narrator begins the story by recounting his gentile disposition in past years, this gentility is diminished once his gluttonistic desire for alcohol grows. Alcohol provides the narrator with a sinister personality, and allows him to become a darker double of himself, one which he cannot control.  Like the result of the narrator’s alcoholism, his cat, Pluto, is initially introduced and associated with darkness.  As a result of this, the narrator believes that Pluto is responsible for his own madness and hangs him. Unlike the narrators double, Pluto’s double represents goodness within humanity; the white fur surrounding Pluto’s neck symbolizes the purity and innocence within mankind which the narrators grows to lack. The representation of ‘doubleness’ in Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Black Cat”, symbolizes the dualistic nature of good and bad in all beings, and represents the responsibilities one ought to measure in recognizing this dualism. In “The Black Cat”, the narrator’s ‘doubleness’ is demonstrated through his drastic change of character while under the influence of alcohol. While he initially admits to being a much more tranquil man in past years, this tranquility diminishes while under the influence of alcohol. At the beginning of the tale, the narrator portrays himself as being a tender, passive man, and states that he “was noted for the docility and humanity of [his] disposition” (Poe, 705). This disposition carries onto his “fond[ness] of animals” (705) and his contentment when discovering that his young wife had shared the same fondness. Though the reader initially senses the good nature of the man, this tender disposition drastically diminishes when...
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