How does Edgar Allan Poe misguide the reader in his story The Black Cat? Essay

Published: 2019-10-27 07:42:09
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Category: Literature

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When I first read the title of the story by Poe, My immediate assumption was that it was a mysterious story about a black cat that may contain superstition and witchcraft, because in literature, black cats are associated with superstition, darkness and evil but as the essay title questions how it misguides the reader, I thought that the story may have nothing to do with the supernatural.

This story, The Black Cat is by Edgar Allan Poe. We do not know of what the story is about but we make assumptions from the title and we do not know whether the narrator is male or female because the story is fictional but Poe writes as if it is a personal account and it had really happened to him. His intent of the story is to unburden his soul and I think he wants to confess to everyone and anyone who will listen to him as he says he wants to place before the world what has happened and claims he is going to die tomorrow.

The opening is unusual because of his proposal when he says tomorrow, I will die. Also he gives the storyline but without detail, is this to misguide us? We never usually see this in a story. I think the story is about someone who has been involved in a series of unfortunate household events that have terrified, have tortured and have destroyed him. The general tone is a frightened and worried one because he says how it has affected him and used powerful language, such as tortured. Also the writer seems desperate for someone to explain these happenings.

In this story this writer has wrote the story in first person. This means that being a reader I can emphasise with the narrator. In most stories the narrator is the hero, he is known as being courageous and have the characteristics of a hero although in this story this is not the case. Poe was the first writer to use this style and make the narrator an anti-hero he is also called this because it doesnt seem right to label him a villain, but he also is not a hero.

At the beginning of the story the narrator tries to make you feel sympathetic towards them by telling you that tomorrow, I will die and tells of how recent events have tortured, terrified and destroyed him. He then continues to tell us how he was a animal lover by saying never was I so happy as when feeding and caressing them. He also says how he was married early and his wife has a disposition not uncongenial with my own, he and his wife were very alike and quite obviously happy.

We are perceived into thinking he is a nice a nice and well natured gentleman. However we have been misguided as he is far from this stereotype is reality. We are fooled into thinking that he was an animal lover who would never hurt a soul. He tries to get our sympathy because he is consumed with guilt at the fact he sickly mistreated and killed a cat and ill-treated and went on to try and kill his second cat with an axe, but instead he savagely and accidentally killed his wife, he says how he buried the axe in her brain. We have been betrayed completely by the narrator.

Another way that the reader is misguided is by the unusual structure. In most stories these usually contains only one major climax but in The Black Cat there is a number of major climaxs but the events that happen in the climaxs gets worse as the story goes on, making us forget the last climax that happened and we become immune. The first major climax is when the narrator gouges the cats eye out. We think this is the major climax but as the story progresses the events become worse and go from the cat being hanged and then finally resulting in his wife being murdered by him. He does this because he wants to tell us the evil things he has done one-by-one because he hopes we will forget about the previous atrocities and still feel sympathy for him.

I also feel that, Pluto was used to misguide the reader in this story. First off, we find out that the cat is named Pluto, this could be associated with a mysteriousness and possibly magic and witchcraft. Poe then continues to say how at first the cat was an affectionate, loving pet, none the less he reveals his wifes belief cats are witches in disguise.

This automatically makes us think that supernatural happenings will later come into the story. The fact that he says about the cats white patch changing into a collar like a noose and that the second cat is a reincarnation of the first seems pretty surreal and unbelievable. The reason for this is so that we also believe that the cat is evil. The main role of the cat in this story is to divert the blame from the narrator to the cat for the terrible things he had done and the murder of his wife. The story would be incomplete without the cat, as it would just be about a man who has killed his wife; the cat is the main character.

Another way Poe attempts to misguide the reader is by using doubles, a common factor used in gothic horror stories to show the story contains split personallities. In this story, it is two cats that are used as doubles to highlight the fact of the narrators split personality. Also another thing that suggests the narrator has a split personallity is the gouging of his cats eye. In english litrature, the gouging of an a eye is interpretted as the person who done it, wanting to be self-castrated. As this story was wrote in the pre 20th century when homosexuallity was illegal, one theory is that the narrator may have in denile of being homosexual,. This relates back to the self-castration, is it possible he wanted to become a woman? So that it was legal to have relationships with males. And by killing his wife with an axe demonstrates his inability to be with a woman.

In conclusion I felt the purpose in the narrator writing his account of what had happaned was to divert the blame of all the horrible things he had done, off of himself. My personal reaction tp this story was rather excited and anxious as to what would happen next, after each climax, but I also felt quite disturbed as the story made me be in the mind of a murderer.

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