Failed Masculinity In Poe's The Black Cat

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In “Household Horror: Domestic Masculinity in Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’,” Ann Bliss analyzes the domestic violence committed by the story’s narrator “through the lens of gender construction,” to argue it is motivated and escalated by his sense of “failed masculinity” (96). Bliss first explains that the narrator’s sense of “failed masculinity” is rooted in “feminine traits” he exhibited as a child. The narrator was consistently made fun of as a child and displayed his “feminine traits” through his “docility,” “humanity,” and “tenderness of heart” (96). Further explained, the narrator is of mother like quality and has a “mother and child” relationship with his cat, “The dependent nature of the relationship between owner and pet-resulting in an “unselfish and self-sacrificing” love (254) – resembles that between mother and child, the fact that the narrator’s wife exhibits similar love for animals reinforces the maternal nature of this relationship” (96).…show more content…
“In order to mask the feminine aspects of his identity and to counter his failed masculinity, the narrator performs increasingly violent acts,” which further proves the theme of “failed masculinity” along with, “He uses this ‘“perverseness’” to reinforce his masculinity, noting that acting on such impulse gives ‘“direction to the character of Man (255)’” (97). With each attempt, the narrator tries to prove his masculinity, Bliss further illustrates how the narrator’s suppression of his feminine side with his “hypermasculine violence” has significantly escalated and finally kills the cat,
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