In "The Black Cat," how does the narrator describe himself?

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The narrator in Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat" is a self-professed animal lover, who claims to be a tender soul, a humanist, and a completely sane and loving character. The narrator says,

My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets.

The narrator's description of himself is important in the progression of the story. While he initially claims to be a sane gentleman and a civil human, he quickly falls victim to mood swings and violent rages. The story follows the narrator as he acquires a pet cat, whom he lovingly names Pluto. However, when he comes home one night heavily intoxicated, he grabs Pluto. When the cat bites him in retaliation, the narrator cuts out one of the cat's eyes. As the story progresses, the narrator becomes increasingly repulsed by the perversion of the wounded cat, and he consequently sinks deeper into madness. Eventually, he hangs the cat from a tree, all the while feeling immeasurable shame and guilt. His spree of violence continues, and he eventually murders his wife with an axe. At the end of the tale, the meows of the cat—who had gone missing—alert the police to the basement where the wife's body is hidden.

The narrator's description as a humanist and animal lover is completely ironic considering the cruel and sadistic actions that he inflicts upon Pluto and his own wife. Because of this and his attempt at convincing the reader that he is entirely sane, he seems to portray himself as the victim of a cruel turn of events, rather than the perpetrator. 

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This short story is very similar in a number of ways to "The Tell-Tale Heart," another first person narrative from Edgar Allen Poe, in the way that the narrator in both stories starts by insisting on their sanity before going on to narrate a story that causes the reader to suspect that they are, in fact, insane. Note how this particular story opens:

For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not--and very surely do I not dream.

The narrator anticipates arguments suggesting he is mad and then rejects them with a simple, categorical statement insisting he is actually sane and that what he reports was not a dream. He seems to try to do everything he can to encourage the reader to believe him, even though he recognises that what he is about to say and the contents of his story is "wild" and will automatically make the reader question the veracity of his account.  

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