The narrator of the story, The Black Cat is an insane man. There is a horde of evidence throughout the story to prove this assertion. The actions, the hallucinations and the uncontrollable fits of rage all prove that the narrator is insane.
The narrator has a divided self or consciousness. There are several issues he does not see about himself. First he does not realize that he is explaining more about his unstable mind and uncontrollable fits of anger and less about the influence of alcohol in his life. The narrator wants to “place before the world, succinctly, plainly a series of household events” (Poe, 1) but explains shocking events that were driven more by his insanity and less by alcoholic influence. He has hallucinations and a mental condition over which he has no control. He states, that as a child he was a submissive and very humble child who loved humanity (Poe, 1). While the reader can Cleary tell that insanity is currently driving the narrator to do strange things which he later regrets, the narrator cannot tell the motivations for all the wrongs he is doing contrary to his docile and humane former self.
The narrator begins by making self-defensive assertions that are contradictory to the events he later narrates. He says, “my very senses reject their own evidence” (Poe, 1) and goes on to add that, “mad am I not- and very surely do I not dream” (Poe, 1). It is strange why the narrator would defend himself prior to being accused and also deny “dreaming” which is a common phenomenon among normal people. Further contradiction which points to his insanity comes in when he acknowledges having Phantasms or nightmares.
The narrator also acknowledges that his “general temperament and characterexperienced a radical alteration for the worse” (Poe, 2). This clearly states that the narrator’s mental stability radically declined leaving him insane. He further states, “I grew day by day more irritable, more moody” (Poe, 2). He also regarded less “the feelings of others” (Poe, 2). Insane people exhibit these characters. This clearly compounds the assertion that the narrator is insane. So unstable is the narrator’s mental condition that he “neglected and ill-treated” his wife and the pets he confessed to love. In addition the narrator states, “the fury of a demon instantly possessed meI knew myself no longer” (Poe, 2). This clearly shows that the narrator was insane.
There are several instances where the narrator does extremely frightening things that a mentally stable person would hesitate or never do. Although he had been drunk his logical reasoning at the time he removed his cat’s eye point to insanity. “I fancied that the cat avoided my presence” (Poe, 2). It is then that he grabbed the cat angrily which bit him and then he proceeded to gorge out its eye. As he hurt the cat he allegedly loved, he was excited, “a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame” (Poe, 3). There is no way a normal person would do anything such drastic and beastly and the narrator must have been insane.
Instead of mending his wrongs by doing right, the narrator reasoned, “to do wrong for wrong’s sake”. He strangled the cat he had earlier injured although he still confessed to love it, “I knew that it had loved me” (Poe, 3). He also states that although the cat had given him no reason of offense, he hung it because, “in so doing I was committing a sin” (Poe, 3). When one does wrong for apparently no reason chances are very high that person is insane and this is exactly what the narrator did in killing the cat.
The hallucinations, uncontrollable actions, failure to acknowledge the motivations for his anger and disastrous actions by the narrator prove that he is insane.
Poe, Edgar Allen, The Black cat. Web 18 December 2013 http://www.online- literature.com/poe/24/