Edgar Allan Poe’s “The black cat”

The Black cat is another story of Poe which shares a few similarities with The Tell-Tale Heart in which our narrator starts the story claiming that he is sane and sharing with us the news that he is about to die tomorrow. So he decides to share his story with us. (Spoilers included)

He begins his tale from his younger years where he talks about his love of all kinds of animals, this being evident by the fact that he is the owner of quite a lot of animals which he shares with his wife. Most notably a black cat by the name of Pluto which he loves the most and is the closest with.

Unfortunately, after the passing of a few years, our narrator slowly becomes more and more unstable which leads him down the path of alcoholism which only serves as fuel for the violent mood swings that make him take his anger out on his wife and all of his pets, other than Pluto. But, upon returning home one night, he spots Pluto and lashes out on him, disfiguring him by removing one of his eyes. From that point on the cat begins to flee at the mere sight of him which makes him feel bad for the things which he has done to him, but after a while, this angers him and he decides to further take his anger on it and hangs him.

That same night he awakens to see his house begin to burn. He manages to save himself but his house burns down. Investigating the remains of his house, he notices a shadow of a cat on a wall. He tries to find a logical answer for this but this seems to continue to haunt him.

After a few nights, he starts missing Pluto so he begins to search for another cat. Luckily for him, he stumbles upon a cat that greatly resembles Pluto, other than a small splash of white fur on his coat which he adopts. At the start, he gets very close to it but over time he begins to hate it.

One day, while going down to the cellar with his wife he almost trips from the cat. Angered even further he tries to kill it with an axe only to be stopped by his wife. Further angered by this he buries the axe in the head of his wife. Worried that he would get caught he hides her body in the walls.

After that, his anger seems to fade away and he begins to sleep very peacefully. On the fourth day after the murder, the police arrive and begin to search his house. He leads them through it and before they leave he begins to talk to them trying to make them suspicious of him. Talking about the fine craftsmanship of the house he taps the wall with his cane. The tap seems to trigger something and a loud yell can be heard from behind it. Upon further investigation, the police discover his wife’s body with the cat sitting on her head.

So much like in The Tell-Tale Heart, we see a man who is slowly losing his sanity but still claims that he is very sane. This makes his statements very unreliable. The only difference is that this narrator claims that the main factor of his actions was alcohol. But it is safe to say that there was much more to his madness than that. He was perverse, violent and unforgiving. He did not need any motivation to do anything that he did and he had zero remorse for his actions. But we can see that no matter how he feels, his past was slowly but surely catching up to him from the deepest parts of his mind. It begins to be evident that a part of him wants to get caught, a part of him does feel remorse and he actually wants to suffer for his crimes. But then again he might just want to show off his actions.

All in all, even though I liked the main character a bit more than the one in The Tell-Tale Heart, this story was not as good or effective as it was. The overall similarities made it not be as enjoyable as it should have been but it was still a very good written story which I recommend reading. The more interesting part is that you could draw parallels between the story and Poe’s life and writing who apparently was also an alcoholic.

Final verdict: 8/10

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