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Edgar Allen Poes The Black Cat - Book Report/Review Example

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In the paper “Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat” the author analyses short stories about a perversion of reality and engage in the continued testing of the limits of reality. While the external environment within which his stories unfold is conventional, the stories themselves are not simply…
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Edgar Allen Poes The Black Cat
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Download file to see previous pages A more discerning analysis of the story leads to the realization that the narrator's guilt-ridden psyche forces him to mentally and psychologically detach himself from reality and enter into a nightmarish world which he, himself, has created.
The narrator details how he grew up loving and respecting animals and married a woman of a similar disposition. One night the narrator comes home drunk and maliciously attacks their pet cat, Pluto, gouging out one of its eyes with his pocketknife. Later, due to guilt at hurting the cat, the narrator hangs it from a tree in the back yard in an effort to damn himself. That night, the narrator's house burns to the ground. While no one was killed in the fire, the house was destroyed. On returning to the house the next day, the narrator observes an image, created by the fire on the only still-standing wall, of a large black cat with a rope around its neck. Subsequent to the fire, the narrator sees a large black cat reminiscent of Pluto, in a bar and takes the second cat home. The next morning, the narrator notices that this second cat is missing an eye, just like Pluto. Over time the narrator becomes suspicious, even fearful, of the cat. This culminates in the narrator trying to kill the cat with an ax and burying the ax in his wife's head instead, instantly killing her. In an attempt to conceal the murder, the narrator bricks his wife up in a wall in the cellar of the building they inhabit. When the police come searching for her, the narrator is given away by the howl of the still-living cat, which he unintentionally trapped inside the wall with his wife's corpse. The police, following the cat's cries, tear down the wall, and the man is arrested for his wife's murder.
As amply evidenced in the preceding summary, the tale draws its impetus from the narrator's insanity. To accept the tale as narrated and told requires the exercise of Coleridge's "suspension of disbelief." To reject it is to acknowledge the narrator's insanity but to understand that he is not intentionally deluded his readers but is confessing that which he believes to be true. In the narrator's mind, and as induced by a psyche driven to the point of insanity by guilt, his narrative is accurate and precise. Importantly, he retains just enough remnants of sanity to recognize that few will accept his fantastical take and, thus, seeks to reassert his sanity by refusing to admit his instabilities and by trying to convince us of his sanity through his word choices and the details he elects to include in the narrative. First, the narrator seeks to prove his sanity by showing that he can distinguish between sane and insane tales. He starts his narrative by writing, "For the wildest, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet mad am I not - and very surely do I not dream" (320). By admitting that he knows the events he is about to relate will be questionable to his audiences' worldview, the narrator seeks to establish his own sanity.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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