Comment on the theme of justice in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat.”

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Broadly defined, justice means that any given action should meet with a fitting and appropriate consequence. In this short story, the protagonist, intoxicated and with “the fury of a demon,” tortures and then kills his pet cat. He hangs the cat from a tree for no good reason, knowing that the cat had loved him and “had given (him) no reason of offence.”

After the protagonist kills his cat, a fire breaks out in his bedroom and burns down the house. His “entire worldly wealth (is) swallowed up.” The protagonist says that he is “above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect” but, in saying so, implies that the fire may be some manner of cosmic or divine justice. This might fit our earlier definition of justice in that the action of killing his cat...

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