Analysis of The Narrator in Poe's The Black Cat

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About this sample


Words: 1304 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Apr 21, 2022

Words: 1304|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Apr 21, 2022

Is the desire to do evil part of human nature, or does this desire stem from somewhere else? In the short story “The Black Cat” (1843), Edgar Allan Poe illustrates the difficulties that the narrator is experiencing through his personal perspective, which portrays him as an unreliable narrator due to his questionable sanity. “The Black Cat” starts off with the narrator illustrating the events that lead to where he’s currently at, death row, in which he comes across as insane. Although many would disagree with the narrator, he asserts that his motives behind his actions come from human nature or perverseness.

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Edgar Allan Poe’s short story starts off with the narrator locked behind bars describing the horrors he has lived through. He begins his personal story by describing that he was a very gentle and caring man who had a loving marriage, in which he and his wife would care for many animals, who he claimed he loved dearly. When he begins his drinking habits he begins to be very aggressive toward his pets and wife, except for their favorite black cat, Pluto. However, one night, when the narrator was once again drunk, he felt that the black cat was ignoring him causing him to reach for his cat, in turn, bitting him in which the narrator then gouges its eye out. On the day after, he asserts that he felt great remorse, but as an excuse, he explains that because of perverseness he must continue the abuse, causing him to hang the cat later that day when he was intoxicated. The same night of Pluto’s death, the house in which the narrator lives in caught on fire causing the narrator to lose his possessions and leaving a large image of a hanging cat on the only wall remaining. The narrator then finds another black cat, which looks almost identical to Pluto, in which he takes home, but begins to feel hatred towards it not long after. He explains that it reminds him too much of Pluto, but his breaking point was when he sees his white spot as a gallows, in which he promises to seek revenge and on it. He later pulls an axe on the cat which caused the wife to prevent him from killing it, killing her instead and hiding her lifeless corpse with calm, hiding it in the basement wall alongside the cat which got him locked up when the cat made noise during a police investigation. The narrator opens up the story by acknowledging that he may seem insane from the story he will share but claims he isn’t, causing him to be painted as an unreliable narrator since the reader can’t trust what he is reporting since sane people don’t tend to feel the need to tell others they’re sane. This leads an informative depiction of what it would be like to be mad, as he shares strange information, for example, he claims that he regrets hurting Pluto and understands that it is wrong, but proceeds to kill him anyways blaming the alcohol for his mood swings and the dark path he follows.

Edgar Allan Poe solidifies the concept of madness by showing the narrator take violent action without any second thoughts or regards for consequences, for example, in the eeriest moment in the text as the narrator calmly disposes of his wife’s body. “And then came, as if to my final and irrvocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit, philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart-one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? … The spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow”, the narrator asserts, arguing that it is a primal part of human nature ingrained into everyone, noting that people tend to do things that wrong for the very reason that they know them to be wrong. This is the type of mindset that the narrator has, had, and will have throughout the whole story as he feels no remorse for murdering his wife and torturing his cat. This is a classic case of insanity, in which the narrator comes up with an excuse as to why he did the things he did.

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Analysis of the Narrator In Poe’s The Black Cat. (2022, April 21). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Analysis of the Narrator In Poe’s The Black Cat.” GradesFixer, 21 Apr. 2022,
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