Narrator's Psychosis in The Black Cat by Poe

In, Poe’s narrator confesses to the brutal murder of his wife, in detail, blaming the black cat. In this story we see how human emotions and actions can be stretched beyond the limits of morality. The Black Cat raises questions of not only the character’s sanity but of Poe‘s own. Even though Poe‘s sanity is questionable there is a positive theme in which to find his story useful, Poe’s irony, symbolism, and unstable state of mind make for an exciting story with twists and surprises of superstition.

In Poe’s fictional story, names of characters are not mentioned nor are they important, for only the events are important to the story’s purpose. The narrator is a first person narrator who describes his horrid actions as a series of mere household events, which in effect were, but the outcome of the mere household events were not in any way Insignificant. Poe’s narrator explains to us that in his youth he loved animals and received full enjoyment from them; he goes so far as to say that his peers made fun of him because he was so soft hearted and an aVid animal lover.

With the narrator’s love for animals I can relate for I also had a great love for animals and nature when I was growing up; although I never completely grew out of it. I don’t have quite the passion I used to. Poe takes his characters from one extreme to the other.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton

Proficient in: Fiction

5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

For example, his narrator in The Black Cat grew up a softhearted pansy. so much so that he was made fun of and mocked. Then in his adulthood he drastically changed for the worse, to the point where he hated and was annoyed by his most favored pet, Pluto and Pluto’s successor. With these extremes Poe creates a character, out of the ordinary, which causes second» guessing and suspense, This sets the reader up for the climax. Poe fills his character with the contrast and irony of growing from a tender youth to an abuswe alcoholic. What caused this morphism? What tempted him, enraged him, and burned in him?

Poe attributes his narrator‘s psychosis to the Demon Alcohol. This to me sounds similar to Poe’s own background. I can also relate to his experience with alcohol, of course not to the point of murder! For my use of alcohol had gotten so out of hand at one point and time in my life, I had become another person With my belligerent fits of anger. ln moderation alcohol can be friend. but in excess alcohol is an absolute demon from the bowels of hell. After the narrator’s identity is portrayed and the reader is held In suspense, Poe leads you on with a drastic chain of events and inner thoughts of the narrator’s. Poe builds his story upon his detailed description of the events that took place and leads the reader into overdrive with astonishing actions. For example, plucking Pluto’s eyeball out with a penknife. describing the narrators disease progressing so much as to inflict physical pain on his Wife. and all the way to the murder of his wife which was meant for the second black cat. With twists and turns such as these we cannot assume the next step and become bored with the story.

If we wanted to get deep into the meaning of The Black Cat and go beyond just analyzmg the story for its purpose. we could say that Poe’s own life is reflected in his fictional story. We could imagine that the cat’s eye, which was plucked, symbolized Poe’s mother that was plucked from his life. The eyes are windows to the soul and one of the most beautiful parts of the human body. Suppose that a part of Poe’s soul was plucked and stolen from his existence when his own mother died while he was young. This reason alone could have inspired Poe to search out reasons and explanations for his being raped of his mother, which in turn resulted in his demented state of mind. We could go even further into a religious aspect while paying attention to Poe‘s mention of God and his belief in God. Maybe Pluto represented Jesus Christ when the narrator hanged Pluto, maybe the second cat symbolized the Holy Spirit or the resurrection of Christ from the tomb’ and the police represented God and His judgement passed.

Whatever the Interpretation we must consider the actions of the main character and not just the results. Poe uses his character to lull the reader onto his side before explaining the chain of events. After his line IS laid out, Poe uses the narrator with powerful words to describe his inner thoughts and surprising misdeeds to reel in the reader. and then totally shock them when the narrator gives himself away With astonishing stupidity because he is so confident in his deception. If anyone does this well it is Edgar Allen Poe in The Black Cat. With the many different ways of looking at The Black Cat there does not seem to be just one final interpretation. For it seems to be awarning not to give up on the human instinct to care and nurture animal life. Yet. The Black Cat also hints to the warning of too much alcohol consumption and its deadly Iongrterm effects for yourself and the people around you. Still. Poe’s story has another agenda, which informs the reader to caution against pride and gloating. Whichever interpretation you determine of Poe’s fiction you may be surprised to find a good moral in his psychotic adventures of the mind.

Cite this page

Narrator's Psychosis in The Black Cat by Poe. (2022, Jul 12). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7