Unreliable Narrators In The Black Cat

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INTRO Edgar Allan Poe is known to be one of the best gothic writers to this day, but his crippling obsession with death can be slightly overbearing. He uses various literary elements throughout his works, including blood imagery and symbolism, to properly display the common theme of death across his stories, but his most important one is his use of unreliable narrators. By using the unreliable narrator Poe can make readers question everything that is written on the pages. Two well known stories of his that use unreliable narrators are The Black Cat and The Tell Tale Heart. The story of The Black Cat begins with the narrator sitting in a prison cell telling the reader that he isn’t mad. He only wishes to tell the story of his life and to…show more content…
This irritates the narrator so in a sudden impulse of perverseness the man grabs Pluto and hangs him from a tree. The same night that he commits the murder, his house burns down and only him, his wife and a servant escape the burning building. Marked on one of the walls is an image of a cat with a rope around it’s neck. The man refuses to accept a supernatural link between the impression of the cat on the wall and the death of the cat. A couple months later after the death of pluto the man is out late drinking and he finds another black cat that has a close resemblance to Pluto besides a patch of white fur on its chest. He takes the cat home and his wife is quite pleased. When they realize that the cat is missing an eye just like the previous cat, the man begins to despise it. Some time passes and the wife notices that the white patch of fur somehow has grown and morphed into an image of the gallows which makes the man even more spiteful and fearful of the cat. The cat never leaves the man alone not even throughout the night which makes the man angry towards the cat. One day the man and his wife followed by the…show more content…
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.” ( Complete Tales 531) From the beginning of the story the reader is introduced to the unreliable narrator. He states how he doesn’t expect anyone to believe his story because even he doesn’t believe it. He states he isn’t mad and that he certainly didn’t dream the events. He labels his crime as “ a series of mere household events.” In his mind, what readers may see as horrific occurrences, he sees it as normal day to day things. Which implies that the abuse towards his wife may occur more often than he cares to say. When he comes home late one night, very intoxicated, he is under the impression that pluto is avoiding him so he grabs him and gouges his eye out. There is a possibility that Pluto could of avoided him, but there is also the bigger possibility that he could of been tricked by the alcohol. Once he finally kills Pluto he mentions that he was overtaken by the “spirit of Perverseness”. The “spirit of perverseness (going by poe’s standards) is essentially what makes people do bad things even when they know that in doing so it will lead to someone being harmed. The narrator seems to know right from wrong yet he still kills pluto because he can’t
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