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The Black Cat

Essay by   •  June 3, 2011  •  1,758 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,483 Views

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The Black Cat, like most of Poe's works, is twisted and in a sense, quite horrific. This short story, displays the competence of the human mind and it very own deterioration, without being able to bring it to a standstill. The narrator is completely aware of his deterioration, and in some instances of the story recognizes the transformation. The narrator tries to overcome the changes, but is unable to reverse his complete and total plunge into madness.

This story first begins with the narrator's confession in retrospect, at a time, he was considered to be overall a pretty normal guy. He was known for his tameness and his civilized thoughtfulness of not just people, but of animals as well. The parents of the narrator increased his love for animals, by allowing him to have many pets while he was growing up. The narrator was very fortunate to meet and marry a woman who also shared his fondness for animals. One of their favorite animals they had was a black cat which they named Pluto. His wife however believed in her mind all black cats were just witches in disguise. This is a popular notion and is overall very relevant to the entire story. The name Pluto is discovered to be the name of one of the gods of the underworld in charge of witches. Another popular notion in the story is the thought of a cat having nine lives; this becomes a superstition that becomes part of the story when the second black cat is thought to be a reincarnation of Pluto, with the only differences being the white patch on the cat's chest.

Pluto, interestingly was the narrator's favorite animal and for many years there was a very strong, loving and special relationship between Pluto and the narrator. Then, due to alcohol consumption, the narrator's attitude changed slightly and he had a momentous change. "I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others." (pg. 2496 last paragraph) One night when the narrator came home extremely intoxicated, his true identification of change showed. When he arrived home, in his mind he believed that his beloved cat Pluto was avoiding him, so he took Pluto by the throat and he used a pen knife to cut out one of his eyes. This is one of many other acts of perversity this character attempts in this story.

The morning after the incident, the narrator was dismayed at what he had done. In time, Pluto did start to recover from the incident but he seemed to totally and completely steer clear of the narrator. As time went on, the cat still avoided the narrator and the narrator's attitude once again overcame him. Only this time, it was a little different; the story stated "offer violence to its own nature---to do wrong for the wrong's sake only." Then one morning, the narrator slipped a noose around the cat's neck and hung it on a limb of the tree, while doing so tears streamed down his face. One must believe that the narrator was ashamed of his perversity because he knew how much he loved the cat and how much the cat loved him, and he had no reason to hang the cat as he did. The night after he killed the cat, his house took flame and it burned to the ground. But, the narrator was naпve to the connection between the perverse killing of Pluto and then his house burning down.

Here is an example of the mad mind thinking nothing of and blocking out anything of superstitious acts such as the house burning down in a redeeming kind of way for killing the cat. But, the next day he returns to the house and sees a crowd of people and on the re-plastered wall that was still standing, the narrator sees a figure of a gigantic cat with a rope around its neck. Once again, here is an example of the mad mind trying to give an explanation for what had just been seen. The narrator seems to think that someone found Pluto's body and threw it into the burning house to awake him. But, the narrator does not realize the fact that it was a gigantic cat which in turn must mean that it was only that big in his own mind.

For many months the narrator could not forget about Pluto. Then, one night when the narrator was drinking very heavily, he sees a cat that looks just like Pluto only this cat had a white patch on its chest. Since nobody really seemed to know anything about the cat, he took it home and it became a favorite to both himself and his wife. But, once again the narrator's perversity causes him to change again and was disgusted by the fact at how much the cat liked them. What was so ironic about why the narrator started to dislike the cat was the fact that like Pluto, it had an eye missing. In the mind of the narrator, this new cat was obviously a reincarnated Pluto. The narrator notes to himself stating that the one thing that made him who he was had now almost disappeared. Here is an example of how a mad man can stand back and look at his life from a distance and see his own change into madness.

After some time, the narrator begins to despise the cat completely and totally. The white patch on the cat's chest which was once not very defined, now had "assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline" and the narrator saw it as an image of the gallows, he cried out, "Oh, mournful and terrible engine of Horror and of Crime ----- of agony and of Death!" One can assume that once again the change occurs in the mind of the mad man in a very similar way as when the narrator thought that the cat was the reincarnated Pluto.

Then, one day when the narrator and his wife went down into the cellar, this so called reincarnated Pluto almost tripped him. In a fit of rage the narrator grabbed an axe to kill the

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