What's with Poe's narrators??

I am a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories.  So far I've read a handful, and to me "The Black Cat" by far was the most disturbing.  On thing I have noticed in Poe's stories is his use of strange narrators.  Whether the narrators are unreliable, unstable, or mentally disturbed, they all add so much to the disturbing effects of the stories.  I also often find myself having little or no remorse for these narrators.  The narrator of "The Black Cat" is now at the top of my list for most hated characters.  Poe's narrators always make trouble for themselves because they are so mentally insecure.  I feel no remorse for them because they create their own problems.  How am I to feel towards a character who kills cats and his wife and feels NO remorse for doing so? It's clear that alcohol plays a big role in this story.  The narrators drunken mood swings leaves him unpredictable and growing more and more mad.  Animals also play a huge role in Poe's work.  It seems odd, in this story, that the animals are well-behaved, but the human is not.  Typically it's the other way around.  Perhaps Poe is purposely switching these roles for a purpose.  He even has the human become a murder.  Killing can be seen as more acceptable in the animal world because that is a part of animal life.  Poe seems to be giving the narrator animal-like characteristics.  It is possible that Poe is demonstrating how inhuman murder really is, and by having the narrator feel no remorse, the sense of inhumanity is intensified.


Interesting that you point out that Poe gives the narrator animal-like qualities. I hadn't made that connection but I agree with you.

it's interesting that you mention killing being more acceptable in the animal world. because in the end, humans are in fact animals. we might like to fancy ourselves up and pretend were better, but the truth is, were actually not as good as the common rat. animals- tigers, dogs, birds, w/e- kill for food and occasionally self preservation. What do we kill for? we suddenly look like we need to fancy ourselves up a little bit more.

I haven't read Poe until now, that I can remember. Your evaluation of his writing really helps me to understand the reasoning behind the events in this story. I did not like the change in the narrator from the animal loving man to the drunk killer that was unremorseful.

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This page contains a single entry by StefanieWiegand published on October 26, 2010 8:28 PM.

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