In the famous short story "The Black Cat " by Edgar Allen Poe, the narrator initially professes a love for animals. He and his wife have numerous pets, but the narrator is particularly fond of a large black cat named Pluto. However, the narrator comes home drunk one night,...
In the famous short story "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allen Poe, the narrator initially professes a love for animals. He and his wife have numerous pets, but the narrator is particularly fond of a large black cat named Pluto. However, the narrator comes home drunk one night, and after the frightened cat bites him, in a fit of rage he gouges out one of its eyes. In another drunken frenzy, he kills the cat by hanging it from a tree. His house catches fire that night, and the next day he sees a ghostly outline of the hanged cat on a wall, as if the cat is haunting him.
A similar cat follows him home one night, and it begins to terrify him, as he notices resemblances to the cat he has killed. Attempting to kill the second cat with an axe, he instead hits his wife in the head, killing her when she tries to stop him. He encloses her body in the wall with bricks, but when the police come to investigate, the second black cat howls from within the wall, exposing the narrator's murder of his wife.
This horrific story has two primary messages or morals. One concerns the fact that the narrator is unable to hide his guilt. Although it seems that he has covered up his crimes well, the scream of the cat from within the wall exposes him to the authorities. In this denunciation, the ending of this story is similar to the ending of another classic Poe story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," in which the narrator, who is also a murderer, has concealed the body under the floor but is exposed to the police when he thinks he hears the heart of the dead man beating.
The other message in "The Black Cat" has to do with the dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol. The narrator commits his misdeeds when he is under the influence of the "fiend Intemperance"—in other words, when he is drunk. He loses control and becomes violent when he is intoxicated.