Edgar Allan Poe's influences on The Black Cat and critics of The Black Cat. Tell me specific explanation

Expert Answers
coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allen Poe uses a very ironic tone for his narrator in his short story 'The Black Cat.' The narrator begins in a strangely offhand tone, which, given the horror of the rest of the story is very weird - he describes the story as 'merely a series of merely household events.' He even looks forward to the future when his morbid events will be discussed. This 'disocciated voice' may tell perceptive readers that all is not psychologically well with the narrator - or indeed Edgar Allen Poe himself. He says that he is the victim in this scenario and has suffered dreadfully, yet offers no responsibilty or sense of guilt himself. A horrific scenario then unfolds and the narrator's view of it seems to be distorted although he has had direct influence over the action. He wonders whether humans have a natural drive to violate the law. The cat's decaying body behind the wall illustrates the decay of a mind that could think such thoughts might be acceptable.

mkcapen1 | Student

Edgar Allen Poe often used the first person narrative in his short stories.  He does this as well in the short story "The Black Cat."  Poe's characters often disintegrate in his novels and short stories.  Poe's own life began to disintegrate from repeated use of alcohol.  Since the main character in the story is an alcoholic whose life disintegrates as he becomes a heavier drinker, the story may have a strong relationship to Poe's own life. While Poe never killed his wife, he was haunted by the demons of alcoholism.  Some critiques believe that the reemergence of the black cat correlates to the efforts and failures of Poe's attempts to quit drinking.

One of the reasons that critiques had not cared for Poe's story was that they thought it paralleled with Poe's own mental deterioration.  Poe also wrote "The Tell Tale Heart" which also had a character who mentally deteriorated.  Critiques in the Christian community found Poe's use of superstition offensive and ungodly.