How well made, how successful a story is “The Black Cat” as a horror story and as a revelation of human character?

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cldbentley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Black Cat," which was written by Edgar Allan Poe, is an extremely well written story and could be considered one of the first stories of the horror genre (as could his others).  Poe did a wonderful job of using the element of suspense to frighten and surprise his readers.  In "The Black Cat," the narrator's obsession with the cat, which prevents him from even recognizing the evil and significance of having murdered his wife, is very disturbing; often, the suggestion of mental disturbance and an inability to distinguish right from wrong or adhere (etc) is upsetting, or frightening, to the reader.

In "The Black Cat," some interesting insights into human nature are revealed.  The narrator describes what he does after "this hideous murder (is) accomplished," which includes little or no sign of emotion related to the death of his wife.  His reaction is indicative of the fact that people easily become obsessed with their own agendas, which are often warped.  At that point, a person is often willing and able to justify and dismiss inappropriate behaviors. 

 In addition, the narrator's obsession with the black cat ends up sending him to the gallows, since he becomes overly confident and the cat howls in response to his rapping on the wall in which his wife is entombed.  Human character often suggests that "what goes around comes around" or "pride goeth before fall."