27 pages 54 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Black Cat

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1843

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Story Analysis

Analysis: “The Black Cat”

Content Warning: This section references animal cruelty, alcohol addiction, domestic violence, and mental illness.

“The Black Cat” is a famous example of unreliable narration. By virtue of his very actions—abusing and murdering his pets and his wife—the narrator is untrustworthy. What’s more, he has an addiction to alcohol that may influence his temperament and perception of reality. In fact, the narrator himself admits that this is the case, but because he has a vested interest in downplaying his responsibility, it is hard to know whether to take this statement about The Consequences of Alcohol Addiction seriously; by “confessing” that his substance use drove him to suspicion, cruelty, and violence, the narrator may be seeking to mitigate his guilt in readers’ eyes. Even his most honest moments are therefore subject to doubt. To further complicate matters, there is evidence to suggest that the narrator lacks self-awareness—i.e., that he is not being fully honest with himself, or that he perhaps lacks the ability to see himself clearly. For example, his outburst about the indignity of a “brute beast” seeming to accuse him is starkly at odds with his professed love of animals and suggests that there are aspects of himself that he would rather not recognize.