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The Black Cat Essay, Research Paper

The Black Cat, an intriguing, questioning, and unnerving swim throughout the complexity of the human psyche. Within the thirty-two elaborately linked, yet modest paragraphs, the reader is introduced to a stranger, no more odd than the one living next to one s self, and calmly walks with him down the dark, solemn path of madness. Dark images of horror and one man s mental chaos rave through the readers imagination, created unquestionably by the psychologically abnormal pen of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe builds his tale through the intelligent use of plot, point of view, characterization, symbolism and theme. This essay will focus on each individual aspect in order to create an overall analysis of this particular short story. Plot, a naturally fundamental element embedded within the short story, therefore this essay will begin with the plot. Simply put, Poe wishes to carry the reader from the point of exposition the eventual resolution with as little nonsense as possible. We are introduced to the story s protagonist instantly, as though he were accounting his actions directly to us, as he quickly reviews his life, touching down for greater detail every now and then in order to establish clear images of unfolding events and emotions. We see this annomoyous man as a child, with his kind heart reaching out for the affection and love of animals. Soon we learn of his early marriage to a caring women sharing with him, his warm love of beasts and their collection of various pets, including a black cat, appropriately named Pluto. Soon alcohol had infested his live and of course his own disposition and mental stability. From here on Poe writes of the man s descent into hell with one detailed entry after another. The cat and man exchange blows, the cat looses an eye. Man obsesses with the conspiracy of the cat so the cat is hung and dies in the garden. The night of the murder the man s house burns away leaving a print of Pluto and his fatal noose unburnt on a lone, remaining wall. The man adopts a new cat, nearly identical in stature to the deceased feline, however he finds random madness returning. Pressure between man and the cat build and therefore the wife dies an untimely death. The man now embraces all that is evil and is foiled, yet again, by the cat. Poe strings together events within the plot like pearls on a necklace, in order to give his readers a proper overview of the essential events and details leading up to the climax. The Black Cat is told by the man, rather than by Poe, the wife or even the cat. This story would therefore be said to be in the first person point of view. As with all first person narration the reader is asked to judge the actions and comments of the narrator s story, to question their logic and morals, and to determine the type of person they represent. This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body…. and thus for one night, I soundly and tranquilly slept, even with the burden of murder upon my soul. (pg. 84-85). He refers to the murder as a burden upon my soul and this crime as being hideous , but only because society dictates him to do so, however, he is a lunatic and Poe leaves it up to his readers to distinguish between the man s non-chalant lunacy and our personal sociological morals.

The above is true for the characterization Poe roots deep within the man. The reader knows nothing of the physical makeup of this adverage Joe, but we are aware of his mental strength and his flowering alcoholism and how the aspects of his personality contribute to the metamorphosis of his life. However, an interesting twist is that he is in no way binded to these vices, he is aware and, in fact, blames his woes upon their infliction within his sole. Another element which enrich Poe s writing is his deliberate use of symbolism. From the most obvious, this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast… later assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline… the image of the GALLOWS! (pg. 83). Where both the reader and the narrator are aware of the symbol at hand, in contradiction to the simple conversation he makes with the reader as he begins his horrid tale, My wife, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise! Perhaps a combination of both symbolism and foreshadowing, the reader later learns of the connection between this classic superstition and this particular black cat. These elements combined create a general theme apparent in all of Poe s work. When one studies the work s of Poe, one spots this theme being not so uncommon human trait, this being the frailty of the human conscienceless. It is to show each man, woman, each person that regardless of the perfection of one s existence that everything is capable of collapsing and if and when it does the conspirator will find justification within due time. Poe writes much the same as a Van Gough painting, with thick, rounded and colorful imagery. Sparing minute detail for overall concepts and emotions, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot without a groan. Is all the graphic gore Poe spared for the horrendous murder of the man s spouse, yet is the overall effect any less chilling than the second by second account of a violent Hollywood movie. Not at all. This is what makes Poe, and in particular The Black Cat such a powerful and emotionally dominating concept within a world of sitcoms and fast-food films.


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