Explain the ontological insecurity in the story of "the Black Cat" by Poe

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ontological insecurity in "The Black Cat" is found in the narrator, who describes himself as a man who used to be of a good disposition, always likable, peaceful, loving, and quite well-bred. According to RD Laig's concept of ontological security vs insecurity, we are basically what others make us out to be. We are either good, bad, simple, complicated, etc. If we do not have these paradigms, we lose ourselves and end up having nothing to live for. If we do not have anything to live for, we are, in fact dead. This is when the "insecurity" part comes into the semantics of ontological insecurity- we need a backbone of motivators to go on with life.

In the Black Cat it seems as if the narrator was dead inside. He has apparently lost the very motivators which would let him remain "good." We do not know exactly what caused him to detour from his behavior, but certainly alcohol and his own inner evils are taking the best of him. This leads to a cruel and murderous behavior which simply meansĀ  that life, as he knew it, has ended. He is now only instinct and sin.

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The Black Cat

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