Man Vs Reality In The Story The Black Cat

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The short story, “The Black Cat,” was written by Edgar Allan Poe. The main characters are the speaker, his wife, and a black cat named Pluto. The conflict occurs when the speaker constantly gets mad at everyone and suddenly snaps, committing a crime. The speaker grew up with a childhood filled with abuse, and as a form of protection, he shut himself out from the world and befriended animals as a form of companions. He married someone who had the same experience as he did, abuse, but both had the same strong love for animals. They had many pets, but the speaker’s favorite was a black cat named Pluto who always followed him around the house.

Everything went downhill when he became an alcoholic and would get mad at everybody except Pluto. One night he thought Pluto was ignoring him which led up to him cutting one of his eyes out with a knife. The relationship between them became worse, and the cat started ignoring him for good. This made the speaker irritated at Pluto, causing him to hang the cat in the basement, where on the same night it got burned down. Time passes until the speaker sees another cat similar to Pluto, but with a white patch on its chest. After following him home the cat reminded him of the crime, which caused him to become insane. He tried killing that cat with an ax, but his wife got in the way as she tried to protect it. He ended up killing her. He decides to hide the body behind a wall in his basement. The police came and started looking around, only to find nothing until a sudden howl came from behind the wall, alerting the police of his crime. Edgar Allan Poe uses symbolism and imagery to convey the theme of man vs reality.

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Poe uses the symbolism of Pluto to convey the theme. “I had walled the monster up within the tomb.” The symbolism of the name Pluto, the God of the Underworld, to a black cat he had as a pet. His view of the world around him changed drastically, and how almost anything can be a threat to him if he thinks it is. Poe also uses symbolism of the cat’s eye, which represents judgment. The thought that the cat can no longer judge him finally makes him realize what he has done wrong.“I took from my waistcoat-pocket a penknife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket!”

Characterization heavily influences the theme of this story. “Yet, mad am I not and very surely do I not dream…” In the first few sentences, we can tell that the speaker is insane and how throughout the story he changes from being a nice, calm man to a violent, abusive serial killer. “My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fiber of my frame.” Poe also portrayed the speaker to have a desire for evil, a worse fiend than drinking, taking over his soul, leaving his “original soul.”

Sarah an actor known for having depersonalization disorder, a disorder characterized as a sense of disconnect from the world around you, relates to the story and theme since both are man vs reality. Sarah struggled to feel love and sometimes sees her body in 2D as if it were flat. Just like the speaker, he battles with his inner self, trying to grab on to reality, but is easily taken over by his own imagination.

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Man Vs Reality In The Story The Black Cat. (2021, September 22). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from
“Man Vs Reality In The Story The Black Cat.” Edubirdie, 22 Sept. 2021,
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