The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe – Essay Example

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe – Essay Example

In a diverse literary heritage of Edgar Allan Poe, a novel genre occupies an essential place. The writer was the first in the history of American literature, who tried to make a “short story” as an independent genre. He expressed his own theory of novelistic composition and stated that a novelist can be distinguished by the impeccable literary taste, original literary manner and the truthfulness of the described situations. Edgar Poe believed that a novel has to read in one go. He also thought that the emotional strength and a powerful, romantic charm were hidden in this short narrative form.

Poe shows the horrible effects of alcohol on the person in one of his most dark stories “The Black Cat”. The narrator disintegrates and transforms from a noble admirer to the animal fanatic and a murderer. Poe blames the alcohol, his “illness” and his “demon”, for this horrible transformation. The black cat symbolizes evil omen and dark forces. The story is told from the alcoholic’s perspective, who under the influence of drinking, loses control of his actions and falls into fits of insane rage. His first victim is a pet – a black cat, whose eyes he cut out in a rage attack. For a while, he is torn between remorse and delight of his own wickedness. Finally, wickedness prevails, and the narrator hangs the helpless cat on a tree in the garden. That same night, when he returns home, he finds a silhouette of a hung cat on his wall.

When the narrator begins to feel the remorse, he meets a similar cat in the tavern. The only difference between two animals is the white spot on the chest of a second cat. The narrator takes it home and tries to be friendly, but quickly loses his temper. In the morning, he discovers that the cat is missing one eye and the white spot on his chest takes the form of a gibbet. The cat becomes attached to his new master, but the narrator tries to stay away without hurting the poor animal. On the same evening, he goes to the cellar, and the cat is following his owner. He tries to kill the annoying cat with an ax, but his wife stops him. In a fit of rage, he drops the ax on her head and becomes a murderer. To get rid of the body, he comes up with a plan to brick it into the wall.

A few days later, the police inspect his house but cannot find the slightest piece of evidence. In a fit of self-righteousness, the narrator compliments the quality of the walls and knocks on the wall in front of the police, behind which his wife is buried. A wild cry follows in response. Police dismantle the wall and find the dead body of narrator’s wife, with a meowing cat on her head.