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Edgar Allan Poe

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What Goes Around Comes Around

In his story "The Black Cat," Edgar Allan Poe dramatizes his experience with madness,

and challenges the readers suspension of disbelief by using imagery in describing the plot


characters. Poe uses foreshadowing to describe the scenes of sanity versus insanity. He

writes "for

the most wild yet homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor illicit

belief. Yet

mad I am not- and surely do I not dream," alerts the reader about a forthcoming story that

will test

the boundaries of reality and fiction. The author asserts his belief of the activities

described in the

story when he states "to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul"(80).

Poe describes his affectionate temperament of his character when he writes "my

tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my

companions"(80). He

also characterizes his animal friends as "unselfish" and their love as "self-sacrificing"


to the readers his devotion to them for their companionship. The author uses

foreshadowing in the

statement "we had birds, goldfish, a fine dog, a rabbit, a small monkey, and a cat"(80).

The use

of italics hints to the reader of upcoming events about the cat that peaks interest and


Poe also describes a touch foreshadowing and suspension of disbelief when he illustrates


wives response to the cat when he writes "all black cats are witches in disguise, not that

she was

ever serious upon this point-and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than it


just now, to be remembered"(80).

Poe expresses his early attachment to the cat and dramatizes the character changes he

experiences when he writes "our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years,

during which

my general temperament and character-through instrumentality of the Fiend

Intemperance-had (I

blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse"(81). He warns the

reader of

new events in a cynical tone and implies the beginning of the madness he denies. Poe first

illustrates this madness when he uses imagery to describe the brutal scene with the cat

when he

writes "I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by


throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket!"

The author describes his emotional and physical state of being during the unthinkable act

as "I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity"(81). He describes the


aftereffect of his actions when he states "when reason returned with the morning-when I

had slept

off the fumes of the night's debauch-I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of

remorse, for

the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocable feeling,

and the

soul remained untouched"(81). Now Poe implies to the readers that he has truly crossed

over into

madness by brutally attacking the animal and feeling little or no remorse.

Next Poe dramatizes his change in character even further when he writes "and then came,

as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS,"(81) which once

again alerts the reader of new events so shocking that reading forward becomes an


The author illustrates a scene so outrageous that the reader has to go beyond the

suspension of

disbelief they have agreed to participate in. He writes "One morning, in cold blood, I



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