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Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cat and Two Logical Fallacies He Uses

The black cat is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most interesting characters. Early on, the protagonist had a soft spot in his heart for domesticated animals, particularly cats. Most people can relate with someone who has a pet in their house, regardless of whether or not they have a personal connection to that person. It doesn’t take long for the reader to see that the main character is suffering from alcoholism, and this becomes apparent throughout the narrative. Edgar Allan Poe’s short tale, “The Black Cat,” is simple to take at face value and conclude that the narrator speaks the truth at first look. However, a new narrative develops once the character’s perspective is understood. The narrator’s unreliability is heightened since the reader obtains a restricted viewpoint, allowing the narrator to influence the tale’s events. The usage and effects of time are used to achieve this manipulation. As the narrator’s unreliability develops, the narrator uses the time to alter the reader’s perspective of events, reducing the reader’s capability to assess the truth correctly.

The narrator’s argument is not sound in this tale because it lacks validity, and its premises are false. The narrator is considered untrustworthy because of his bizarre behavior. It’s difficult to tell if he’s delusional or just suffering from psychopathy, despite his best efforts to portray himself as sane. In three distinct passages, the narrator defends his mental stability. The first passage appears right at the beginning of the story where the narrator asserts that; “Mad indeed would I be…’ and ‘yet, mad am I not (Poe, par 1)”. The second section occurs during Pluto’s murder and the accompanying fire (Poe, par10). The narrator dismisses the possibility of a paranormal connection between the two. The night after his wife’s death, he confesses it’s weird that he can sleep “soundly and tranquility” even with the “weight of murder” on his conscience (Poe, par27). These passages demonstrate the narrator’s ability to think and reflect. And even though his acts are beyond comprehension, he makes an effort to explain. Alcoholism is the primary cause of this. Secondly, and more unclearly, as the result of a “perversion of the spirit” — a reason he cannot reconcile entirely.

Similarly, the predominant cognitive bias in the narrative is self-serving bias, where the narrator inclines to accept personal attribution for happy situations and blame external reasons for poor occurrences. Pluto’s eye is ripped off by the narrator (Poe, par7). When asked about the incident, he admitted to being drunk. A further sign of his sanity is the fact that, in retrospect, he recognizes that the cat bit him out of fear rather than malicious intent. It’s also possible that he was overcome by alcohol-induced wrath because of the language used in his confession: “The fury of a demon suddenly overtook me,” and “my natural spirit appeared to take its flight from my body” (Poe, par7). “I flush, I burn, I tremble” and “I felt a mixture of horror and regret” are examples of his response to the recalled event, which indicates that he is aware of the crime of the conduct.

Despite the cat’s ability to heal from the narrator’s gouge, it was wary of him and avoided his vicinity. After first feeling sorry for himself, the narrator becomes upset by the cat’s aversion to him. This continues until the narrator’s soul is overcome by “the spirit of perverseness,” which he claims is the commission of sin for the sole purpose of sinning (Poe, par9). Pluto is taken by the narrator and hung from a tree in the yard. This was done in “cold blood,” as the narrator asserts. Even while he isn’t completely cold, his demeanor suggests that he still has some remains of conscience (Poe, par9). Besides, his allegation that he hanged the animal with ‘tears running from his eyes and the bitterest guilt in his heart’ bolsters this argument. Compared to the first crime’s impetuous character, this one is genuinely wicked and well-thought. This unprovoked behavior effectively foreshadows the narrator’s eventual moral collapse later in the story.

Concurrently, the narrator’s story is not plausible. Therefore, the narrator makes the reader believe that the events he described were nothing more than an ordinary chain of events with natural causes and results. As a result, he starts to talk urgently, claiming that he has a mental illness to defend his sanity. When the “fury of a demon” takes possession of the narrator, he abuses Pluto, his favorite black cat, to death, killing the cat in the process (Poe, par9). Because of this, he initially killed his cat because of his intemperance. They can no longer be trusted as gentle and animal-loving people but have been changed into psychopaths at this point in the story. All of these “darkest and most vile of thoughts” couldn’t have been directed towards the cat, according to the narrator in the preceding paragraph. His wife was the target of one of these “unpredictable and ungovernable eruptions of rage,” which he admitted to in the same line (Poe, par22). It is clear from these texts that there was a planned and increasing tendency of violence, which would have included thoughts of murder.

Logical fallacies

Appeal to pity fallacy

An appeal to pity is a logical fallacy in which the storyteller manipulates the reader’s sense of sympathy or guilt to support his argument or concept. Emotional appeals are used in a particular way here. For example, the night after he killed the cat, his home was destroyed by a fire. By being an intelligent and critical person, the narrator refuses to draw any link between his atrocious act of murdering the cat and the subsequent calamity. This is an example of the “appeal to sympathy fallacy,” which proposes a logical rejection of anything so fanatical that the burning of the home may be vengeance for his killing the cat. However, the next day, he went to the remains of the house and observed a large gathering of people. Only one wall, which had recently been re-plastered and was still wet, remained in its place (Poe, par11). Over his old bed, a giant cat’s head and neck were drawn in plaster. The narrator’s irrational thinking once again tries to explain this phenomenon rationally. He speculates that someone dug up the cat’s corpse and threw it into the blazing home to rouse the narrator up, which would explain the house burning, the walls tumbling down, and the area coming from the corpse.

The false cause fallacy

Additionally, the narrator uses the “false cause fallacy” to misplace the reason of one phenomenon in another that seems to be connected. For instance, He and his wife were heading down the basement one day when the cat almost tripped him up; he seized an ax to kill it, but his wife stopped him from smashing it. He retracted his arm and plunged the ax deep into her skull (Poe, par23). This horrible conduct came out of nowhere and was completely unexpected. The narrator’s affection for his wife has been frequently emphasized. Poe’s topic of the narrator’s perversity is the sole explanation for this act of perversity that surpasses the hanging of Pluto. The ax meant for the recently acquired cat is diverted to the meddling wife’s head in what seems to be another outburst of uncontrollable wrath. While it’s not quite the end of his moral decay, it is now, as he describes the ‘entire thought’ that went into concealing the corpse. The night before, he slept peacefully, as if nothing had happened. Also noteworthy is how unfazed he is when confronted with the police inquiry.


In conclusion, to this day, Poe’s weird and macabre storylines and his tragic characters and their unfortunate ambitions remain among his most recognizable literary achievements. This narrative’s spiral towards madness and deeds was likely inspired by the narrator’s alcoholism, odd character, and maybe some obsessions. However, if he had been a sane person, he would have been able to deal with the circumstances that he faced. In his attempt to present the events in a neutral light so that the audience may judge what ultimately led to his demise, the narrator unintentionally disclosed much more about his mental instability and character than he probably meant.

Work Cited

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe.”, 1845,


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