Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

>> Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Black Cat is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. In honor of my favorite holiday I will devote my next few posts to Poe short stories. It helps that I just did a six page paper on three of his stories. I am not going to write this like a book review because even if you know the ending it is still worth the read.

Here is a story of a psychotic killer as he progresses from a self proclaimed tenderhearted man to a cold-blooded killer. The man is confessing to his atrocious crimes and leads us through the "inexplicable series of mere household events." From the onset of the story he wants you to believe these events were something he could not control. He lets us know that he believes them to be natural events, the progression of cause and effect.

The story starts with him describing himself as tender in nature. He loves his pets and finds a wife to love as well. They both love their pets and all is well until he starts drinking too much and he becomes abusive to his wife and pets. So he starts blaming the alcohol and progresses to evil spirits later in the story but never accepts personal responsibility. When analyzing this story I kept thinking that this man was never connected to anyone and not at all self aware. It felt like even when he lived these events he was a casual observer.

Anyway his cat who loved him dearly and followed him around makes him mad one night after he comes home drunk. Pluto, the Black Cat gets his eye gouged out for making his master mad. In this instance he basically claims a demon possessed him and made him do it but admits to rather enjoying the act. Then he feels like the cat is tormenting him because he doesn't want to be near him and because he bears the missing eye as a constant reminder to the narrator of what he did. So what does he do you ask?? He hangs the cat, then his house catches on fire and a charcoal image of the cat is burned over his bed. He doesn't see this as a sign either just a series of natural events.

He goes on about his life and even gives a similar looking cat a home, but soon after the qualities of this cat taunt him. The new cat has a missing eye and a patch of white fur around his neck like the noose he used to kill Pluto. Again this is not his conscience or guilt talking to him, nor is it a reincarnation of his old cat, in the mind of the killer his frustration is merely caused by this cat. Well he lives with this for awhile but one day the cat trips him and he goes to kill it with an ax and he ends up killing his wife. He builds a wall in the basement to conceal her body. The cat disappears as well and he speaks of how well he starts sleeping. He also feels proud of the work he has done to conceal his crime even telling the police how well constructed the walls were in the basement. He doesn't know he walled up the cat who lets out a shriek giving him away to the police.

There is much more to the story, it is on my must read list. There is so much you can get from this story. Something that really struck me is even thought this man would be considered sick, there are some aspects of this story seen regularly in our society today. This mans lack of personal responsibility was taken to and extreme. I see it everywhere today thought in a less extreme sense. For example many people blame alcohol for their bad behavior. Yes alcohol does cause bad behavior if you drink in access but who decided to keep drinking??? If you know you do stupid things when you drink YOU should take the steps to prevent this. You could drink less or not drink at all. You should not go out knowing that you can't control yourself when you drink and then blame the alcohol when you get in trouble for something you have done under the influence.

Many people have affairs and blame their spouse. Some of them may have a decent reason (not advocating affairs at all but I can actually see why someone in a sexless marriage would have an affair), that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about people who either refuse to talk to their spouse about problems they have with their marriage and try to fill their need with another person or they just can't help themselves when an attractive person is present. The first person is trying to fill a need that they have spent little or no time explaining to their spouse. They are making it his/her responsibility to "know" their needs. They then blame the affair on the spouse who is crushed when they find out about the affair and on top of that pain they are considered the cause.

The man or woman who just has no self-control blames circumstances. If attractive woman A had not been at the party I would never have had an affair. Please! If you can't keep your pants on don't go to a party! Okay I am oversimplifying that one but we all know people do it all the time. I hesitated to put this up because our society takes marriage so lightly today and I don't want to sound super judgmental, but on this subject I am judgemental if you are married don't have affairs. If you have already quit blaming the victim of your selfishness. If you don't want to have sex with only one person for the rest of your life don't get married and tell everyone you date upfront that you have no desire to have a commitment and you refuse (not can't) to be faithful.
Own your actions! I think we can all do this more often. I guess I am more able to do this because I was not brought up to blame others even though sometimes I want to. Sometimes I even start out that way, but can usually admit I am part of the problem, even when I don't know how to fix it. My biggest thing is what I eat. I like to eat what tastes good not what is good for me. I can not say no......oops I mean I don't say no to sweets if they are in my house. Owning your actions is hard sometimes but not impossible.

You don't want to let the evil thing in you take over your spirit and act through you do you? Next thing you know that evil will have you killing people and animals with an ax and ......well you get the point.


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