I want to focus on the theme of alcohol in "The Black Cat." What should my thesis be? I'm using the title, "The Legacy of the Fiend Intemperance."  

Expert Answers info

Lawrence Rodman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write51 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

The American Temperance Movement’s most renowned advocate, Carrie Nation (known for smashing taverns with a hatchet) would not even be born until three years after the publication of Poe’s The Black Cat, in “The Saturday Evening Post,” in 1843. But temperance was an established concept, functionally, in part due to a need for sober machine operators while the Industrial Revolution ramped up. But—when Poe speaks of temperance—it’s from his own haunted, internal monologist’s perspective. And, of course, Poe himself suffered from alcoholism, which clearly exacerbated his natural melancholia. So, when the text references temperance, it’s as a nineteenth century concept, such as Mysticism, or Providence; a means to process various social dynamics at play, as the behavioral influences of the old world gave way to the new.

Historically, it’s been observed by anthropologists that human settlements were originally formed at the same time that fermentation was discovered; so alcohol is culturally blended-in with our willingness or ability to live as close together as we do, and in harmony. The man, woman and animal in “The...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 600 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial