Edgar of his mental failure, and at bound

Edgar A. Poe’s
story, “The Black Cat,” was published in The Saturday Evening Post
in 1843. The story follows the narrator, who is a former animal lover turned
alcoholic that mismanages his wife and black cat. By the time we reach the end
of the story the relator find his own mentality falling apart and murders his
wife while his black cat reports his crime to the police afterwards. It was
later included in Tales by Edgar Allan Poe in the 1845 short story collection.

Even amongst most of Poe’s works “The
Black Cat” shows the human capability of regarding the mental
deterioration of one’s self and the inability of the mind to stop it from
happening. Narrator of this short story is acutely and completely aware of his
mental failure, and at bound points within the story, he recognizes the changes
that occur at varied moments to him, and he attempts to try and do something concerning
it. Nonetheless he fails to reverse the mental instability he suffers.

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Like most of Poe’s stories, this one not
out of the ordinary and thus not an exception, we are not aware and know
nothing of the relators past or background. While the narrator declares he is not mad, his actions are
obviously that of a madman who realizes clearly he is going insane, but at
times he is able to comment on the situation of his torn and twain psyche.

The Narrator starts his telling by looking
back to a time he was thought to be a traditional, animal-loving, docile
individual with greatly humane concern for his neighboring folks and animals. His
parents were the initial reason for his innate fondness for animals, since they
indulged him and allowed him to own many pets, furthermore he was lucky to
marry a woman who was also fond of animals herself. One of the numerous animals
they had was a black cat named Pluto. Pluto, also known as the Roman God of
Death and patron of witches, is a fitting name for the black cat since the
narrator’s wife made note of the popular implication that all black cats are
witches in disguise. This makes the name significant for the entirety of the
story. The other popular opinion related to this story is the superstition that
all cats have nine lives. This becomes a relevant to the story when the second
cat is assumed by the narrator to be the reincarnation of the cat he killed and
hanged with only one minor difference, being the outline of a tree at it’s
breast.

 

Surprisingly, a very special and intimate
relationship existed between the cat Pluto and the narrator, as it was his
favorite animal for several years, despite the many pets they owned. Suddenly, however, a change took hold of the teller,
significantly because of alcohol, he went through a strange and different
change, quote, “I grew, day by day, more moody, more
irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others.” One evening when
the narrator arrives home intoxicated and imagined his beloved cat took effort
to avoid him the change in his demeanor and personality becomes most apparent.
He grabs the cat by it’s neck, and with a knife pops out of on it’s
eyes. This is the first of such acts done by the narrator throughout the story,
and far from the last.

 

Next day the narrator
notes that he was terrified of the events that took place and what he had done.
In time, the cat healed yet it now deliberately avoided the teller. This caused
another malicious event as it enraged the narrator and sparked a spirit of
perverseness that made him do wrong fort he sake of doing wrong only. One
morning he placed a noose around the neck of the cat and took it to hang it
from a branch of a tree. Even as he did, he was clearly embarressed, ashamed
and sad of what he was doing, since he was aware that the cat had indeed loved
him, and gave him no reason whatsoever to hang him to begin with.

 

That night the house
of the narrator catches fire, and burns to ashes and cinder. This happens
sometime after the horrifying act he commits, yet he acts analytical and
rational, giving no thought that there may be relation to the deed of killing
the cat and the event that destroyed his home

 

Here we see the
crippled mind of the narrator offering a rational reason instead of anything
remotely superstitious. And rejecting that the burning of the house might be a
small retribution for his mutilation and slaughter of his pet. Nonetheless he
visits the shambles of his former home to see a gathering of people about the
wreckage. Here he observes a wall that was still standing. He recognizes it to
be the one beside his bed, and whatsmore engraved into the plaster was a
striking figure of a cat, with a rope detailed about it’s neck.

 

Here we see again how
the narrator with his madness try to rationalize the occurance. He thinks
someone found the dead cat and tossed it into the flames to wake him up.  Along with this the ammonia inside the cat,
burning of the house and the collapse of the walls, all of these assembled the
grave encounter.

 Long after the events prior the narrator still
could not take the image of his cat and what had happened out of his mind. One
evening while he was intoxicated an unreasonable amount he saw another cat,
black just like Pluto, yet without a white splash of color on it’s chest. He
questions who he knows and no one claims to know anything of this cat. So, he
takes it home to take care of it and care for it. This new cat becomes the
center of the attention between the narrator and his wife. Yet, the madness
sprouting in the narrator causes in him yet another change. The cat and it’s
affection fort he duo begins to revolt him. He loathes the cat and hates it,
and his disgust for it is only fueled by one detail: that the cat is missing an
eye, just like Pluto.  The narrator
begins to assume that this new cat is actually Pluto, only reincarnated. In the
mind of the narrator, this cat was obviously a reincarnation of Pluto. Around
here the narrator notes of his newfound state of mind, or rather, his state of
mind acquired after losing the previous shred of humanity he had, as he says
that it is now completely göne and that he is aware of it. This is in part
related to the introduction bit of how the insane can observe from a far and watch
the detoriating state of his mind and change in his own personality. 

 

At last, the narrator
begins to fear the cat. He is scared and horrified of it, especially after the
splash of color on it’s torso assumes the terrifying image of the gallows the
cat Pluto had. Eventually he cries out in dismay and agony at this revelation.
It is likely this change appears in this mind of the narrator’s addled and
everchanging mad mind, in the same way that he thinks this creature as the
reincarnation of the cat he hanged and killed.

 

Eventually things take
a grim tone when the cat steps before the narrator while he and his wife walk
down to the cellar and nearly trips him. Filled with hatred and animosity
towards the cat, he grabs an axe to kill the creature but ultimately fails to
do so when his wife steps in before him and hold him back.  He pulls back only momentarily before landing
the axe straight on her head. He delivers an untimely death to his wife, one
that is not prepared or expected and it absolutely wrecks the man.  Poe makes it clear in writing that the
narrator loves his wife unconditionally, and this turn of events shifts the
story somewhat into an even darker region of tale that displays the narrators
current state of distress and madness. It is an act much more cruel and  evil than the hanging of the cat.

 

Narrator knows he must
take care of the body and dispose of it at once. He thinks of cutting it into
fragments and pieces, much like in another story of Poe’s, “The Tell—Tale Heart.”
Yet, instead of chopping his wife to bits to get rid of her body the narrator places
his wife in the cellar and walls her body so that nobody finds her and suspects
him.

He plants the evidence
behind the suitable spot in the chimney and cleans everything up in a way that
no clue as to what happened may be realized by anyone, and buries the axe he
used to split the head of his wife. After all of this, the narrator decides to
kill the accursed cat and be done with it’s miserable existence at once, yet to
his surprise the cat is nowhere to be found and has escaped without so much as
a trace. After several days he decides the monster that was the cat has
disappeared to forever be amiss and will not return.  Here he is able to sleep properly and safely
in his bed, without a shred of remorse or guilt despite what he has done in
days prior. This change in attitude is different from what and how his feelings
were at the beginning of the story. It is a huge leap from the domestic man who
loved animals and his fellows he once was.

 Four days after the murder he committed a
patrol of police officers suddenly and unusually show up in his home to search
and inspect the property. Much like in “The Tell-Tale Heart” here we see that
the narrator is confident that he left no evidence, not even one bit. He believes
throughly that nothing can give him away, as he did a thorough job of hiding
his tracks. There is nothing that alerts the police to come searching the
place, yet there they are, mysteriously and suddenly just like in “The
Tell-Tale Heart.”

 

Be that as it may,
while the police were searching he knocks on the wall that keep the corpse of
his wife hidden so heavily with a mad, careless courage that to his immediate
fright and terror a muffled sound is heard from the other side, answering his
rapping with an inhuman and animalistic howl and wailing shriek, half cry and
half scream. The sound comes as if it can only come from several affixed
throats of the hell-bound and from the creatures of the nether that inflict
their horrendous punishment.

 

Officers start to rip
the bricks apart at once and toss them aside to remove the brick wall with haste.
They discover the putrid, decaying remains of the narrator’s wife. What they
see other than that and is of great note, however, is the cat the narrator
describes as, “hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder . . . I had
walled the monster up within the tomb.”  In
his blindness, the very creature, or perhaps it’s resurrection, or an entirely
different one, or even the divine retribution in the form of an animal was what
gave away his horrendous deed.

 

In the end we see that
the narrator, commenting on his own state of affairs admits himself to the
insanity he denied so feverishly at the introduction of the tale.

x

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