The black cat essay
The nature of perverseness Is shown throughout Edgar Allen Poe’s “the Black cat” as the man has practically been completely deprived of his emotions and mental stability due to his alcoholism rendering him just a vessel of his former self. This is shown through symbolism of burning house post death of Pluto, first cat. This again after meeting the new cat and the insanity he feels from seeing the gallows represented on the white fur. Finally it is seen again when the authorities show up and he is willfully determined to go counter what is expected or desired by not doing the righteous thing. The alcoholism has taken his righteous soul away and replaced it with aggression and nothingness. In the black cat Edgar Allen Poe has used the effect of “symbolism” to show the readers of the demise of the main character. The effects of symbolism are first seen in the short story when the main characters alcoholism and lose of humanity lead to killing his beloved cat. After the horrific murder a strange unknown fire has burnt his house to the ground and even worse an extreme suggestion as towards Pluto’s revenge as side of the burnt house was charred in the shape of a black cat like Pluto. “As if graven in bas relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat.”(Page 218) The symbolism behind the black charred cat could refer to the fact onyx (black) cats have long connoted bad luck and misfortune. So by killing Pluto our main character has issued himself a potential curse to an extent.
The name Pluto is also the name of the roman god of the underworld. Pluto contributes to a strong sense of hell and may even symbolize the devil himself. As well later in the story the white splash on the new black cat symbolizes the mysteriously taken shape of the gallows, the structure of which the hanging takes place. The fur also symbolizes the suppressed guilt that drives him insane and causes him to murder his wife. These symbols are to show off the narrators wrong doings and that his bad luck and conscious are about to come crashing down on him despite if he feels regret or not.
The Effects of insanity are also highly retrieved throughout reading this story. As the narrator grows older in life things he once cared for and admired become nothing to him with complete lack of human emotion. As a child he adored pets and owned many but in the present state we find him slaughtering them for no reason.” I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets.”(Page 215) Edgar Allen Poe incorporates this feel of insanity to the play to show his nature of perverseness from his alcoholism. The narrator’s insanity is shown many times throughout this short story. The first clear instance of his insanity is shown with his loss of love towards animals as he kills his cat Pluto. “I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of the tree.”(Page 217) Insanity is also represented when the narrator begins believing in superstition or the supernatural. As he begins to see signs of the cats revenge possibly as superstition. The charred cat figure on the side of the house is taken as a possible sign of supernatural. This all leading to alcoholism again as drinking could have influenced his grip on reality and is making him insane seeing what his mind wants him to see.
Another major theme shown in “the black cat” is the harsh realization of adulthood. “I grew day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others.” As the narrator’s life further proceeds he finds everything more of a burden and stops caring all together. This in turn has led to his alcoholism as he has found out life isn’t exactly what we had wanted it to be. The furry fuzzy creatures he owns remind him of a more simplistic life style where he was young and happy. Now the author shows us that he needs alcohol to deal with life’s stresses and becomes frustrated/angry towards his pets due to the fact it reminds him of a happier time in his life.
The realization of adulthood is also shown as “are you going gentlemen? These walls are solidly put together.”(Page 222) This takes place when the police are investigating his home. In this instance the author has clearly shown a child behaviour as the narrator is about to escape from punishment as the cops proceed up the stairs. However the narrator insists on specifically tapping the walls and mentioning their strength like a little kid making it obvious to his parents he’s hiding something. This ends up resulting in the uncover of the body and the narrator coming to the realization he is in fact an adult now, he can be held responsible for crimes he commits. This idea again all points back to his alcoholic ways as maybe the narrator uses alcohol as a way to escape tohis childhood years but at the same time it’s numbing him and only giving him a temporary discharge to reality.
In conclusion of “the black cat” the center focus regards around the narrators issues all towards the indulgence of alcoholism which leaves a man just a vessel with no soul. Alcohol had made the narrator into a childish, insane, superstitious man. The fact of his alcoholism could very well be due to the loss of a happier childhood time or possibly just the struggles growing up becoming an adult.