The Voice Inside: Rhetorical Analysis Of The Black Cat

1888 words - 8 pages

In Edgar Allan Poe’s ominous short story “The Black Cat”, the main character, who is also the narrator, commits many horrifying crimes, making the reader question his morality. Throughout Poe’s story, the narrator constantly gives reason to his actions, such as a “spirit of perverseness” that led him “to do wrong for wrong sake’s only” (“Black Cat” 117). The reader may analyze this statement and relate it to times in their own life where they have done wrong for reasons they cannot fathom. Through writing such an eerily descriptive first person narrative, Poe effectively engrosses his audience in his story, warning them of what could happen when one lets their voice inside take control.
Everyone, at least once in their lifetime, has done something so uncharacteristic of themselves that it makes them immediately wonder, “What was I thinking?”. What is it that leads one to subconsciously do something wrong or sinful? Some refer to it as “the voice inside your head”, while others refer to it as “listening to your conscience”. The idea of the voice inside one’s head and one’s conscience have always gone hand-in-hand. However, they are quite opposite in how they affect one’s thought process. In the popular health and wellness website called the Isha Blog, Sadhguru discusses the concept of the human conscience and it’s relation to humanity and morality. In order for one to gain morality, and ultimately develop their inner conscience, they must have “compassion for all life around [them] and dispassion towards [themselves]” (Isha Blog). Only then will one be able to truly distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.
In “The Black Cat”, the narrator begins his story by looking back to his earlier life, and his “tenderness of heart” (“Black Cat” 115) towards his friends. His compassion for life around him was shown even more so towards animals, who “[he] spent most of his time” with, happily “feeding and caressing them” (“Black Cat” 115) whenever he had the chance. However, as time passed, the narrator’s character was overwhelmed by alcohol abuse, causing him to lose his humanity and succumb to his voice inside. This dissipation of the narrator’s former loving and caring self led to many instances where his voice inside, or “spirit of perverseness” took over, and he had no compassion towards any kind of life around him, whether it be animal or human. Oppositely, there very few instances where the narrator’s conscience was apparent. The narrators voice inside was exemplified when his cat bit his hand, causing “the fury of a demon [to] instantly possess[ ] him” (“Black Cat” 116), urging him to mutilate his cat’s eye. The narrator’s inability to overcome his voice inside is further exemplified when he hung his cat “because [he] knew that in so doing [he] was committing a sin---a deadly sin that would so jeopardize [his] immortal soul…” (“Black Cat” 117). The narrator’s urge to commit a sin and total disregard for the well-being of his once beloved...

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