Style Analysis: “The Black Cat” By: Edgar Allen Poe

What in the…

Alright, I was at a loss for words through most of the story and at the end I fist-bumped the air like nobody’s business. Like holy freaking crap, the emotions Poe evoked from me were irrevocably insane. My jaw fell straight to the floor when he axed his wife… like what in the heck?! Talk about an escalated plot twist! The tone I got from this story is ironic. While the narrator is trying to convince the audience that he is sane, all the while going into detail about his horrific behavior. In the beginning he states “From infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition” (Poe).  Ironic, right? He is the COMPLETE opposite of what he is telling us.  All of the grim events that he inflicted, like stabbing the eye of his cat and then killing it and murdering his wife; he then went on with casual indifference. Acting with out a care and showing no remorse, even as he carefully and meticulously tombs his wife’s body in the wall. By the way… I noticed that after he murdered HIS WIFE, he then refers to her as “the corpse” or “it”. As if she never was and held no importance to him. The ending is also ironic, because the narrator is overly confident with his “burying the wife” skills. Tapping on the wall where his wife resides, unbeknownst that the cat (beast) he so dreadfully despises will meow back and cause his evil deed to be revealed. 

The mood is pretty on point, going with ominous and horrific. Poe provides dark language throughout the story, and even named the cat ‘Pluto” which means roman God of the Underworld. I mean, that right there is gothic and dark. There is superstition with the black cat and the house fire, providing symbolism with the wall left standing with a mark that looks like Pluto when he was hung. The symbol being revenge. Along with superstition, we were then introduced to another cat who resembles Pluto. It is obvious this is horror fiction, because of the narrators cruel intentions and murderous crimes. I even felt half-crazed just reading this, tapping into the mind of an unstable, violent individual. 

Here I just wanted to drop a few examples of figurative language I found in the text. Yes, I know there is more. For this though, I just wanted to keep it short and sweet.

 SIMILE – “But my disease grew upon me — for what disease is like alcohol!” (Poe). Obviously comparing alcohol to a disease, amplifying the negative effects of alcohol. Perhaps Poe has experienced the ill effect of alcohol firsthand, since the narrator in the story is consumed by it from beginning to end. 

HYPERBOLE – “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me.” (Poe). Clearly exaggerated, but another way to show his violent side from his indulgence of alcohol. Showing us his short fuse and bad temper, allowing his rage to take over. A way to let the audience know that he was so angry, he was seeing red. 

PERSONIFICATION – “I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire.” (Poe). Fires do not not literally cry, but it provides us a way to envision the sound that woke him up. Giving sound effects to create the atmosphere being told. 

By: A.Stuebbe

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Black Cat”. 1845. https://poestories.com/read/blackcat

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