The Theme of Perversity in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Cat, Short story Pages: 4 (1359 words) Published: November 9, 2013


The Theme of Perversity in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat

ENG 201 American Literature to 1865
2/28/2012

The Black Cat is a tale that leaves the reader somewhat perplexed. It certainly contains all the ingredients necessary to satisfy the appetite of any Poe enthusiast - an enigmatic narrator, alcohol and the effects thereof, mutilation, strangulation, murder, putrefaction, and, last but not least, one of Poe's slight (but recurring) obsessions, perversity - but we are left wondering whether the tale really amounts to anything much at all.

One could almost split this short story into two halves: one that contains a couple of ideas worth considering; and another that simply indulges briefly in an unlikely plot before grinding to a predictable halt. Even the worst of Poe is, thanks to the very nature of the man, worthy of our interest and consideration. This paper will analyze one of Poe's recurrent themes as his stories often explore the determination of man's most twisted minds. The underlying theme of perversity in Poe’s The Black Cat, is evident in several different instances and levels of intensity. The dark tale starts out normal enough…for Poe anyways. The narrator and his wife own several pets. Among them is large black cat named Pluto. Pluto become an adversary to the narrator after, one day, in a drunken rage, the narrator blinds Pluto in one eye, and then hangs the cat from a tree. Mysteriously, the house burns to the ground, leaving a silhouetted mark of a cat hanging from a gallows. Later, our narrator acquired another car eerily similar to Pluto. Again, incensed with drink, he attempts to kill the cat and ends up murdering his wife with an axe instead. The Black Cat is a haunting tale that explores the psychology of guilt; often compared to Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart as, in each story, the narrator initially believes himself to be unassailable only to experience the withering effects of such heavy...
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