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Thesis Statement For The Black Cat

The Black Cat - Abnormal Madness

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The  Black Cat - Abnormal Madness


It seems that almost every Edgar Allen Poe story ever written has a
much deeper and darker meaning hidden inside its lines.  Many of these pieces
are demented enough even if the reader does not read "between the lines."
"The Black Cat" is an example of this kind of story.  In this morbid look into
the narrator's mind, the reader follows the narrator as he does many
disturbing things in his household.  This story, like many of Poe's other pieces, is
a venture into abnormal psychology where the narrator is completely insane,
not only because of the horrible things he does to his cat and his wife, but
 because of his state of mind that he shows the reader throughout the
     At the beginning of the story, the narrator makes the writing out to
be "plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household
 (p. 1495).  As the story progresses, the reader finds out that this is
> clearly not at all the case.  The events within the text of this account
are unmistakably the ramblings of a madman who cannot seem to control his
actions and keeps drifting deeper and deeper into insanity.  In the first
paragraph of the story, the narrator begins to defend himself by saying that he is
not mad.  This definitely seems like he is trying to reassure himself more
than the reader of his state of mind.  This seems to be Poe's way of gradually
 easing into showing the reader that this story is, in fact, an exploration
 into the abnormal psychology of the human mind.
    The narrator says that from his childhood, he has been considered a
very  docile person.  He also mentions in the first part of the story that his
"My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my
 companions" (p. 1495).  At the point in the story when he says all this,
it seems fairly feasible.  However, as the reader goes on to read, the rest
of the story, they find out that this is not the narrator's present demeanor
in the least.  Just from seeing what is obvious about the narrator and not
even reading deeper into his mindset, the reader can gather that the man is
 probably not a reliable source for correct information.

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     Throughout the story, he contradicts himself in regard to what he
> mentions in the opening paragraphs.  On the first page of the story, the
> narrator says that he "was especially fond of animals" (p. 1495).  He
> contradicts himself once again in talking about his cat, Pluto.  At first
> loves the cat and cares for it very affectionately.  After a while, his
> demeanor changes and he begins to take out his anger on his pet, along
> his wife.  The narrator then comes in one night "much intoxicated" (p.
> and cuts Pluto's eye out because the cat avoids him.  This action
> solidifies his madness in general.
>     His behavior toward the cat is just the beginning of the reader's
> escapade into his state of insanity.  In the story, the narrator tries to
> make it seem like he has remorse for doing this horrible thing to his
> pet.  In reality, this is probably just another way of convincing himself
> that he is not as crazy as he really is.  After he watches the cat roam
> around for a while with only one eye and constantly run from him, the
> sets in again and he cannot control himself.  He finds the cat one morning
> and he "slipped a noose around its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree"
> (p. 1496).  He pleads that he kills the cat out of pity and because he
> that the cat loved him at one point.
>     After he kills Pluto, he seems to get more and more maddened.  It
> that almost immediately after the murder of Pluto, his life begins to turn
> totally upside down.  The climax of his madness is probably when his house
> burns down one evening.  It burns down to the ground all except one wall
> "which stood about the middle of the house" (p.1497).  All the neighbors
> crowd around it, and he seems convinced that they know what he did to the
> because of what he calls "the figure of a gigantic cat" (p. 1497) with a
> around its neck.  It seems as though any normal person would think twice
> about believing their eyes when they thought they came across such a
> occurrence.  Instead, he tries to rationalize how it got there and gets
> paranoid that someone knows what he did.
>     Shortly after the fire, a "new" cat visits him.  This cat looks almost
> exactly like Pluto except for a white patch of fur on its breast.  When he
> first finds the cat and takes it home, the reader knows only that it looks
> like Pluto.  As the description a progress, the narrator tells that this
> is also missing one of its eyes.  This suggests that the "new" cat is not
> new cat at all, but just Pluto's ghost coming back to haunt him.  The
> thing about the situation is that the narrator loves this cat at first,
> then grows to hate it because it reminds him of what he did to Pluto.  The
> story gives the sense that this cat is there to torment him and to drive
> even more insane than he already is.
> Toward the end of the story, the narrator had taken all he thought he
> take from the cat.  One day, he and his wife are going in to the cellar
> an errand and the cat almost makes him fall down the stairs.  He grabs an
> and tries to bury it into the cat.  His wife, trying to stop him, grabs
> arm.  In a fit of rage, he turns the axe on his wife and buries it in her
> skull.  This shows us that the narrator has no way of controlling what he
> does when he is angry.  This also shows us that he must be insane, if only
> because he kills his wife for trying to save a cat.
> There are many oddities in this story that can only be explained by
> psychology.  The reader has to try to see into the narrator's mind to
> out exactly what is causing his horrible and disgusting actions.  It seems
> the reader would have to be a bit mad to grasp the full effect of this
>  Poe makes sure to point out to the reader that the narrator has less and
> less control as the story progresses, therefore making him look a little
> insane with every paragraph.

I would suggest you start with three steps that relate to one another.

First, review what a thesis statement is. You need to have a clear statement that can support an interpretation throughout your essay.

Second, define what you mean by "perverseness." You've already said that you don't want to write about how everyone is perverse in some way. That's a good idea: that's too general and weak an idea to really do this story...

I would suggest you start with three steps that relate to one another.

First, review what a thesis statement is. You need to have a clear statement that can support an interpretation throughout your essay.

Second, define what you mean by "perverseness." You've already said that you don't want to write about how everyone is perverse in some way. That's a good idea: that's too general and weak an idea to really do this story justice. So, what do you mean? Does perverseness include the way the story is told, with the narrator distorting things to fit his needs? Or is it just the violence and intense emotion the narrator shows in the story?

Third, review the story one piece at a time, honing your definition and testing your thesis. For example, in the very first paragraph, the narrator says the events in the story have "destroyed" him. If that's the case, can we trust anything he says?

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