The Black Cat


When Edgar Allan Poe wrote "" in 1843, the word "paranoia" was not in existence. The mental illness of paranoia was not given its name until the twentieth century. What the narrator is suffering from would be called paranoia today. The definition of paranoia is psychosis marked by delusions and irrational decisions. This definition could best be described in the nineteenth century as being superstitious and believing that supernatural powers are affecting our decisions. Superstition and being taken over by the supernatural is a recurring metaphor for paranoia in Poe’s story.
At first, the narrator of the story is very caring and loves animals; being with ...

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The cat’s name, Pluto, increases the assumption that the narrator will have bad luck. In Greek mythology, Pluto was the god of the dead and ruler of the underground. The symbolism of the cat’s name can be used to show that in some way the cat will be involved with death.
When the narrator returned home after a night of drinking and noticed that Pluto was avoiding him, he went on a search for it. Upon finding and grabbing Pluto, the narrator is bitten in the hand by the cat. Because of this bite, "the fury of a demon instantly possessed" the man, and he "knew [himself] no longer" (347). Since , associated with evil, bit the narrator, he now has evil inside of him. After this attack, the narrator first shows signs of mental illness. His saying he ‘knew himself no longer’ and that his soul has "take[n] its flight from [his] body" implies that he is not in control of his body and an outside power, the supernatural, is (347). After the ...

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reality, though, the cat is not alive; the narrator is just having a delusion, which is a symptom of paranoia. He quickly calms his worries about how the cat survived by saying that an onlooker watching the fire must have seen that the cat was tied to the tree and released it. Making oneself believe what is not true is also a sign of paranoia. The cat could not have been alive because it was hung from the tree in the morning, while the fire started late at night. The cat would have been dead by the time an audience would have formed outside of the burning house.

There is significance to the cat’s being seen by the narrator on the wall. The wall symbolizes the Wailing Wall, also ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 2/2/2005 03:46:59 PM
Category: English
Words: 1769
Pages: 7

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