"The Black Cat" semester paper - Olivia Butters Ms...

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Olivia Butters Ms. Rollins U.S. Literature Honors [E] 20 December 2017 Masking Yourself During the 19th century, when Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Black Cat,” was written, society expected a household to be patriarchal. The man was expected to be tough, without emotion, and the head of the household. The narrator in this short story failed to uphold society’s standards of what a man should be, due to his lack of a job and failed ability to have children. He has characteristics of femininity, which he hates and tries to hide through his violent actions. In Poe’s, “The Black Cat,” the narrator feels a lack of masculinity which leads him to objectify his wife and the black cat in order to reaffirm his role as a dominant figure in society. The narrator abuses his wife and his black cat, like a slave master abuses his slaves, in order to feel power and control over them. The narrator mentally justifies these actions due to his way of thinking his wife and the black cat belong to him, and do not possess any human or living characteristics. He felt that beating and killing his wife and cat was merely the same as performing these actions to an object, incapable of feelings. A slave owner performs similar actions to his slaves. This idea of ownership degrades these slaves to mean nothing. Because of this mentality of slave masters, slaves were continually denied sufficient food, adequate clothing, and proper care (Proctor III 669). Slave masters have no reason to provide any care or attention to their slaves, as they were just property to their owner. Just as a slave master views his slaves as his property, something he owns and controls, the narrator in “The Black Cat” views his wife and cat in the same way due to his abuse of both of them.

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