The Black Cat is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and published in 1843. Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. He was one of the first well-known short novels writers. He is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. Many of hisstories are part of the science-fiction and fantastic genre. The Black Cat is about a man who loved animals when he was young. However he gradually changed his mind into a real rage towards animals as he became alcoholic. He first ill-treated his animals but not Pluto, his cat. Then one night he comes back from a pub or something like that, drunk, he believes the cat is avoiding him. When he triesto seize it, the panicked cat bites the narrator, and in a fit of rage, he seizes the animal, pulls a pen-knife from his pocket and deliberately gouges out the cat's eye. Then he killed the cat and his wife but finally get caught by the police. This dramatic story makes us thinking how Edgar Allan Poe join his esthetic in this short story to the gothic genre. In order to answer this question weare going to developp two important points : a psychoanalytic reading explaining how frustrated is the main character, and how the cat symbolizes the consciousness of the character. And the other point is about the macabre point of view : the horror of the story and the fantastic atmosphere in it.
I/ A Psychoanalytic Reading
Frustration could be the word that couldexplain lots of things about the story. But what is frustration? Frustration is an emotional response to circumstances where one is obstructed from arriving at a personal goal. We do not know enough about the characters, their life and occupations but we could easily understand that the male character is frustrated. Something may had turned bad in his life and violence begins immediately. Sources offrustration may be internal or external. Internal sources of frustration involve personal deficiencies such as a lack of confidence or fear of social situations that prevent one from reaching a goal. Conflict can also be an internal source of frustration when one has competing goals that interfere with one another. External causes of frustration involve conditions outside the person such as ablocked road; or conditions linked to the person's actions but not directly such as lack of money, or lack of sexual activity. We do not have enough elements to make our proper idea about the source of the frustration. Maybe, the character was too young to marry or maybe he had a difficult childhood : « My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions ».
Alcoholis also a factor of frustration. Usually compared to a way of escape from real life, in that case, alcohol is much more the cause of an excess of frustration. Indeed, when his fury first sprang out on his poor cat it was when he was completely drunk.
B/ The cat symbolizes the character consciousness
Pluto was the King of the Underworld in ancient Roman Mythology, ruling over the abode ofthe dead. Poe decided to call the cat Pluto, maybe because, the main character sees himself through the cat's eyes. He first is attracted by what he sees, a pure animal without dark side. The fact that the cat is black is also symbolic of death and PERVERSENESS. The character plunges himself into a miserable human being who only answers with violence : by his language and also physically on hisanimals and wife. Moreover the cat reveals the character madness : the cat is the same man, first in a positive way then in a negative way. The cat embodies the inside man devil, so the narrator assimilates both characters to evil being. The diabolic animal reveals the worst human passions, notably the present animality in man, as manifests the murder of the woman. The most amazing thing about...