As I was reading “The Black Cat” I couldn’t help but notice a significant amount of similarities between this short story and another one of his, “The Tell-tale Heart.” Every step of the way I kept comparing one short story to the other.
Beginning of the stories…
At the beginning of both stories the narrator starts by recalling on past events and declaring his sanity. They go on to say that the happenings they are about to tell are not acts of insanity but rather justified. Another claim that both narrators make it they each possess a disease.
Both narrators perform acts of violent and horrific murder but what stood out to me even more is that the people that they murdered were ones that both narrators had said they loved. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator murders his father whom he says that he loved. “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.” In “The Black Cat” the narrator abuses his wife and cat, Pluto, and murders both. He makes it well known that he cared about his wife but he loved the cat even after his disease started consuming him. “Pluto—this was the cat’s name—was my favorite pet and playmate.”
Another similarity is the original lack of remorse from both narrators. After the narrator kills his father in “The Tell-Tale Heart” he does not express any emotions of regret or remorse, rather he seems relieved that the “evil eye” will no longer bother him. In like accordance with “The Black Cat” the narrator does not express any remorse after killing his wife, however the narrator does express remorse when he hangs Pluto. It is the frustration and resentment brought on by their “diseases” that leads them to murder.
and the End.
Towards the end of the both stories there were three things that really stuck out to me. First, both narrators orchestrate and execute a well-thought out plan to hide the bodies of the deceased (except for Pluto in “The Black Cat”). Even more prominent is that fact that both narrators decide to hide the body within the house. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator cuts the head and the limbs off then hides the body parts below the floor in the old man’s bedroom. In “The Black Cat” the narrator hides his wife in a false chimney behind one of the walls in the cellar. Both work to fit the floor boards and brick wall back together with complete precision so that no one will recognize that anything is amiss
Secondly, after the bodies are taken care of both narrators look on the situation as being able to carry on and finallyyyyy move on with their life. They both felt free and as if they actually had a secured future now without their sources of frustration and anger in the way.
Lastly, when the police where searching for the missing persons both stories talk about how they came to search the homes of the deceased. Both narrators make a show of parading the officers around the homes to show them that nothing is amiss. Both narrators felt that they half concealed the body so well that no one would ever be able to figure out the truth. They make a point to boast their success and triumph; in “The Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator brings the officers into the old mans room and places his chair on the exact floor boards that he buried the old man under. “In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.” In “The Black Cat” the narrator tells the officers how soundly the house was constructed and he then raps on the bricks in which directly behind is his dead wife. “The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness.” In the end these actions are what get the men in trouble and reveal their heinous actions.
Because of such similarities between the two short stories I made the inference that perhaps Poe is saying that boasting about personal success won’t get you any further in life like you think you might, rather it will just hurt you and will negatively affect how you wish to carry out your future.