Friday, February 26

This is an essay I wrote about how Edgar Allan Poe created a message of animal rights through his short story, The Black Cat. I didn't think it was that great, really, and there are lots of mistakes (especially in citation) but I got an 'A' on it from one of my favorite teachers whom I have a ton of respect for (she's absolutely brilliant and I want to be just like her), so it must be good, right? I wrote a really great one for another class that I'll post when I know what my grade is.
I know like, nobody is going to read this or gives a shit about my analysis skills, but I like this stuff and this is my fucking blog, I CAN DO WHATEVER I FUCKING WANT.

"The Black Cat": A Lesson in Compassion
On the surface, the prose of Edgar Allan Poe seems shallow, simplistic, merely stories of the fantastic and frightening. Yet through careful consideration, one might find that Poe's writing held more intent than to simply frighten and shock his readers. Through depicting a reversal of the ideal, the grotesque and horrifying, Poe was ultimately teaching readers about humanity and truth. "An investigation of Poe's occasional references to the functions of terror and horror in imaginative literature seems to indicate that he deliberately dramatized these effects in order to teach his reader to navigate the tempests of the human condition..." (Garrison Jr. 146) Poe wasn't simply trying to write scary stories but was trying to show readers the value in good behavior and good nature. There are many stories that act as examples to this, such as "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," but no lesson is so obvious as the one taught in "The Black Cat." Through use of fear, superstition and depictions of violence, readers are taught a lesson in cruelty as well as kindness. Once a man who loves and cherishes the animals in his life, the story's narrator becomes so terrible through alcohol consumption that he completely forgets how to control himself and not only mutilates his once-beloved pet but hangs it as well. Of course these depictions are horrible, but they also serve to show readers that this behavior is abhorrent.
In the beginning of his tale, our narrator tells us that he has always been a lover of animals. "From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. ... I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, and in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure." (Poe) He even goes on to marry a woman whose disposition toward creatures is similar to his own, and it is presumed that they live together in harmony for many years in a home filled with love, joy and pets. It is when the narrator begins consuming alcohol on a regular basis that his love for animals becomes perverted into annoyance and even hatred. He tells of abusing and "misusing" them and even goes to far as to mutilate the cat, Pluto, by cutting out his eye with a knife. Readers see these actions and come to understand that drinking alcohol in excess completely changes a person into something loathsome. The narrator was once a gentle, good-natured person but has become so terrible in his alcoholism that he is committing terrible acts of violence to defenseless creatures. Deliberate, purposeless violence toward animals, such as the violence depicted in "The Black Cat," is something modern society is disgusted by, especially when it comes to animals kept as pets. When Poe writes of these ugly acts, it's hard not to feel disgusted and even angry. However, violence toward animals is common today and many companion animals are misused and neglected. It wouldn't be improbable to presume that such violence might have been more common in Poe's day. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was only founded in 1866, while "The Black Cat" was written and published some twenty years before that. By showing readers how wholly despicable animal abuse is, Poe presents a message to his readers that animals should be treated kindly.
As the story of "The Black Cat" continues, the narrator eventually grows so annoyed with his mutilated pet's fear of him that he takes the animal outside and hangs it. And while there is a twinge of regret and sorrow, the narrator chooses to ignore those feelings and justifies his actions by saying he has given in completely to perversion and vagary. The narrator even brings his readers into this impulsive need to commit senseless acts and violence. "Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law , merely because we understand it to be such?" (Poe) While I would not argue with this statement, nor would most readers, I find myself hard-pressed to believe that many people have hurt or killed animals simply because they know they should not.
Later in the story, in a whirlwind of anger, the narrator attempts to kill another cat with a hatchet. His wife tries to stop him and so instead of aiming his blow at the cat, he brings it down upon her. While some people can shrug off an act of violence toward an animal, it is undeniable that killing another person is entirely unjust and only the cruelest, most vile of sorts could commit such an act. The narrator doesn't even feel regret for the murder of his wife. He accounts his burial of her then once the task is completed and notices the cat is absent, "...I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul!" (Poe) In this depiction one can draw parallels between violence toward animals and violence toward humans, that with the former comes the hardening of the heart and the loss of the soul so that the latter becomes only a flick of the wrist, just something that happens when a person gets in one's way. It is here that Poe illustrates the true horror of animal cruelty; that cruelty and violence toward animals will only lead to larger crimes. I feel that it is in the murder of the narrator's wife as well as the hanging of the cat that Poe's lessons are shown. Human beings are subject to act in a rash, impulsive manner and often do commit crimes when in the throes of passion, but most people can manage themselves well enough when it comes to wanting to harm and animal and especially when it comes to wanting to harm another person. It is in understanding this that Poe's lesson in animal cruelty is taught. Violence inflicted upon animals can lead to much more dreadful acts, and no violence goes unpunished.
Poe's lessons seem vague, but that is only because he approaches them from behind and in a unique, frightening manner. "Horror and terror are legitimate effects when they are calculated to compel the reader to turn his attention and affections from a debilitating and terrifying analysis of the human condition to an alternative - an ideal - in Poe's case..." (Garrison Jr. 148) There is good and evil in the world, and while many writers will focus on the good, Poe has chosen to focus on the evil, so that in showing us wrong we are taught to also understand right. Most readers will look on Poe's work as they would look on anything from the horror genre: a shock tale, a spook, something to gawk at. Yet through a deeper reading of his texts there is a lesson to be understood in that, simply, you don't want to be like these characters, you don't want their fates. In the case of "The Black Cat," the narrator gives into his perversion and dark impulses and kills his pet, and late his wife. This is not a crime that goes unpunished; it comes back to haunt him and eventually the man gets his due.



Here's some drawings I made on things in class. It's blurry but the viking is saying, "LET'S FUCK SHIT UP" and I asked myself, "What are those berries that vikings and Ikea employees eat?" Elderberries? IDK, they make a soda out of it.



Here are some hot outfits and self portraits. Excuse my beauty.



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