More than any of Poe's stories, The Black Cat actually illustrates best of all the capacity of the human mind to observe its own deterioration as well as the ability to comment upon its own destruction without actually being able to objectively stop that deterioration. The novel’s narrator is fully aware of his mental deterioration. Moreover, at certain points in the story, he fully recognizes the change happening to him, and he keeps making attempts to do something about it, though he finds himself absolutely unable to reverse his falling into madness.
Poe's critical essay, dubbed The Philosophy of Composition, deals with the whole importance of creating a unity or totality of effect in his stories. In this paper, the author draws attention to the fact that the artist needs to decide what effect he’s eager to generate in a story and in the audience’s emotional response. The he should get down to using all of his creative powers to achieve that effect:
In The Black Cat, it’s apparent that the major effect Poe was eager to achieve was a sense of absolute as well as total perverseness. In fact, a great number of the narrator's acts don’t feature motivation or logic, they’re just acts of perversity.
In all of Poe's tales, we don’t know anything about the narrator's background. The given story isn’t an exception too. We should stress that this story has much common with The Tell-Tale Heart, in the regard that the narrator starts his story by simply asserting that he’s not mad at all. In the process of proving that he’s not mad, we observe increasingly the actions of a madman who’s aware of the fact he’s going mad but who, sometimes, is capable of objectively commenting on the process of his increasing madness.
In this particular story, the narrator starts his confession in retrospect, at a time when he was considered to be an absolutely normal guy, known for his docility as well as his humane considerations of animals and folks. His parents tolerated his fondness for animals, so he was allowed to own many different kinds of pets. Aside from that, he turned to fortunate enough to marry a female who liked animals too. Among the numerous animals they had was a black cat named Pluto. Since his spouse often made allusions to the common notion that all black cats are pure witches, the name Pluto becomes important in terms of the entire story. The other popular notion relevant to the story is the belief that a cat boasts up to nine lives. The given superstition becomes an essential part of the story when the second black cat was supposed to be a reincarnation of the dead Pluto with just one slight but terrible modification — the imprint of the gallows on the breast.
More than any of Poe's stories, The Black Cat actually illustrates best of all the capacity of the human mind to observe its own deterioration as well as the ability to comment upon its own destruction without actually being able to objectively stop that deterioration. The novel’s narrator is fully aware of his mental deterioration.