Freshman English II
05 May 2019
Poe’s Use of Literary Devices in The Black Cat
Before we jump into analyzing the textual themes and writing characteristics of The Black Cat which make it the great story it is, we should touch on the main plotlines in the story---so I’ll give a quick recap. At the opening of the story, the reader is addressed by an unnamed narrator, in prison, awaiting his execution the next day. Before his death, he wishes to share his story, so that he may unburden his soul of the guilt he has. He also alerts readers that this story may come across as fantastical but he argues that he is sane and these events happened to him to the best of his knowledge. When the narrator begins telling the story, he starts some years back, and notes that at the time, he was a very gentle and caring individual who had a loving marriage. Together with his wife, he had many animals, which he cared for deeply. His personality shifts though, as he turns to drinking---becoming an angry alcoholic. He explains that drinking causes him to have mood swings in which he’d have violent outbursts---striking his wife and pets. Up to this point, the narrator claims that the only animal that had not faced his wrath was a black cat named Pluto, the family’s favorite. However, one night after coming home drunk, the narrator feels like the black cat is ignoring him so he reaches out to grab Pluto who bites him in response. Struck by a sudden rage haven been bitten, the narrator takes the cat and cuts out one of it’s eyes. While he regrets this in the morning, he claims that because of innate perverseness and desire to do evil, he therefore must continue the abuse. Soon after, he hangs the cat from a tree in his yard---killing Pluto. The night that he kills Pluto, there is a fire in his house. Everyone gets out safely, but the narrator loses all of his material possessions and wealth. Furthermore, a strange event takes place. On the single, remaining wall after the fire, an image of a cat with a noose hung around it is burned into the plaster. Following the events of that night, the narrator explains that he wants to find another similar cat since he misses Pluto. Soon after, he finds a nearly identical cat, the only difference being a white patch on its chest, who follows him home and quickly becomes a new favorite in the house. It does not take long though, for the narrator to begin to feel hatred for the cat. He explains that it follows him around excessively and reminds him of his past crime. The final straw for the narrator comes when the cat’s white splotch changes to resemble the gallows, a tool used for hanging people. After seeing this, the narrator promises to seek revenge on the animal. One day, when going down into the basement, the cat trips the narrator and he attempts to kill it with an ax in a fit of anger. To his amazement, his wife stops him from completing the action. In response, the narrator buries the...