The Black Cat Significant Allusions
by Edgar Allan Poe

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Significant Allusions

Biblical Allusions: The biblical allusions in “The Black Cat” highlight its narrator’s struggle with sin and repentance. For example, the narrator expresses worry over the sin he commits in killing his cat, believing that God may withhold mercy due to his actions. 

  • After plastering his wife’s body up into the wall, the narrator says to himself, “Here at least, then, my labor has not been in vain.” This quote is an allusion to 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians describes the Last Judgment and resurrection of Christ. The allusion thus touches on the subject of resurrection, which figures in Poe’s story when the narrator’s new cat is so similar to Pluto that readers might wonder whether the cat returned from the dead.
  • The narrator begs to be saved by God when he realizes that he has been caught and will be sentenced to die. The narrator exclaims, “But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend!” The narrator hopes to be saved from the “Arch-Fiend,” or devil, despite his immoral actions.

Mythological and Folkloric Allusions: “The Black Cat” includes allusions to both mythological and folkloric traditions. These allusions support the supernatural aspects of the story. 

  • The first mythological allusion is the superstition about black cats as shape-shifting witches in disguise. This allusion is made by the narrator’s wife, who comments on their black cat, Pluto, as being a witch.
  • Black cats are seen in mythology in several other ways, as well. In Celtic mythology, there is a fairy creature called “Cat Sìth” which takes the form of a large, black cat with a marking of white upon its chest. This fairy cat of Celtic...

(The entire section is 490 words.)