The black cat : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

In black cat, i need to know weather he is a insaine or not ?

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2000



I hesitated in asnwering your previous query because the conclusions are not that simple as it relates to the story in question. The following is the best I can do so, here goes!

Was the narrator in the story, The Black Cat insane? Hmmmm.. well wouldnt it depend on the yardstick by which you measure insanity? There is little doubt that the behavior of the individual in the story does not conform to what we, the typical reader, would accept as normal human conduct. In fact, some of the more extreme elements of his behavior can be considered quite irrational or unbalanced. I am not speaking, necessarily, of the death of his wife that was an accident. But I am speaking more to the heinous acts committed against the black cat that he, himself, loved so dearly. Consequently, we are tempted to pigeonhole this individual into that comfortable little nook labeled insane because he has clearly violated the limits of acceptable social behavior. Therefore, the answer would be Yes, he was insane. BUT!!!

Perhaps, if the question were rephrased to read, Was it the authors intent for the narrator in the tale, The Black Cat to be seen as insane? My personal opinion is that, no, he did not.

Poe wrote often about the primitive human impulse in man that causes him to act in a manner that is in direct conflict with rational reasoning and logic. A predilection that he referred to as perverse. It is a theme he used often and can be found in his tales, The Imp of the Perverse, Never Bet the Devil Your Head and The Tell Tale Heart. In its most benign form, it is this same perversity that causes us to procrastinate, to put off those tasks that we know must be completed less we be subject to some form of loss or discipline. That homework that will be late, that chore that could be done today but we will surely do tomorrow. In a more dangerous form, it is that persistent urge, regardless of origin, to do those things, perform those acts and take those risks that put our welfare or even our lives at risk. In its most malevolent form, it is that wicked and instinctive human impulse that compels us to leap beyond any measure of acceptable behavior and to violate common sense and well considered judgements and act in a manner inconsistent with the laws of man and of God.

But what about those individuals that succumb to this impulse in combat. Those that intentionally violate all reasonable logic and impulsively place themselves at risk for the sake of their comrades. These we tend to label heros. Are they any less mad? Are they any more sane? Well, we all know the answer, dont we?

The narrator in the tale was just such a man and in a temperate state, he was able to maintain rigid control over these inherent human impulses. That is to say that he was able to remain rational and reasoning and guided by his inhibitions and intellect, he was to be considered sane. Yet, as he began to drink, the intoxication washed away his inhibitions, his intellect began to blur and his ability to reason in a rational manner succumbed to the instinctive impulse of his perverse nature.

So Rajan, what is your verdict? Was he sane and just a victim of the impulsive behavior inherent in us all? Or was he insane? It is your call!

Interestingly, this short story was first printed in the United States Saturday Post in 1845 and known today as the Saturday Evening Post. This was about two years after the 1843 acquittal of Daniel McNaghten who had been charged with murder. He was acquitted on the grounds of insanity and it was the determination of the jury that he was unaware of the nature of the act and did not know it was wrong. It was this case that established McNaghtens Rule in law. Interesting bit of timing for old Edgar, dont you think?

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2000

i dont think that he was insane rather i think that he thougth that he could get away with murder and yet his subconsciene did not allow him to get away with it

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2000

What is the raven about?

-- Anonymous, December 15, 2000

I do not think that he was technically insane, but that he got caught up in his acts that he really had no idea of what he was doing. He also was an alcoholic, and whether or not he was drunk when he killed his wife and the cat we will never know but it seems he was not right of mind when he performed these acts.

-- Anonymous, March 29, 2001

I really liked The black Cat it was something different* All his work is the same its all very weird* I liked it much better than The Raven

-- Anonymous, November 22, 2004

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