Define perversity and explain how it impacts the stories "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The two narrators in the stories “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are perverted.  Edgar Allan Poe delved into the perversity of each of his protagonists to find what compelled them to commit his crime.

What does the word perversity mean? The word itself is a noun derivative of the word perverse. The Oxford English dictionary defines perverse as the opposite of what is morally right or good; someone who is perverse is wicked or evil or debased. Thus perversity is the act of being perverted. 

How does perversity impact these stories? In today’s vocabulary, if someone is perverted, it usually is a sexual reference.  This was not true of Poe’s perversion.  His perversions were the human misdeeds of one person against another animal or human being.

In “The Black Cat,” the narrator acts because he knows that he should not.  The man had an impulse to commit a sin and an uncontrollable longing to impose his will.  This man was corrupted by alcohol; therefore, his...

(The entire section contains 559 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on