Literary context

Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories are often seen as gothic stories. This genre frequently resorts to ambiguity and puzzling characters. Furthermore, the setting is dark, and the aim is to instil feelings of horror and suspense in the readers. These elements can also be encountered in “The Black Cat,” as the setting of the story is ambiguous, and the narrator has an unstable state of mind that drives him to commit murder.

The gothic genre also frequently deals with issues of the supernatural, but also with psychological breakdown. In “The Black Cat”, the writer suggests that the cats may be supernatural (the reference to witches and the changing shape of the second cat’s patch of white fur). However, the events in the story may also be entirely down to the narrator’s psychological transformation – he may be imagining that the cat’s pattern changes shape, for example, because of his feeling of guilt. It is very typical of Poe's stories that there are elements that could be supernatural, but could also be prod...

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