Edgar Allan Poe's Theme of Analyzing the Human Mind


“Evil thoughts became my sole inmates.”(Poe 539)   This excerpt exemplifies Edgar Allan Poe’s theme of analyzing the human mind which is ever present in Poe’s works.   This paper will explore the aforementioned analysis by examining three types of this theme which are guilt, revenge, and insanity.      

The Black Cat exemplifies Poe’s exploration of the human condition known as guilt.   The main character in the Black Cat, whose name we are not given, is described as an animal lover and overall nice guy who turns into a miserable wretch throughout the tale.   This psychological transformation is the product of the main character’s guilt.   In one night of pure inebriation the main character notices his beloved cat, Pluto, is avoiding him.   Upon seeing this, he attempts to seize Pluto, which responds by biting his hand.   Once bitten, the main character reacts by grabbing Pluto by the throat and proceeds to carve its eye out.   This is the beginning of the main character’s guilt which he expresses in this line, “When reason returned with the morning… I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse.”(Poe 536)   This guilt creates a sense of grief which soon turns to annoyance within the main character because every day he sees the cat he sees the cause of his guilt.   The sight of Pluto which is simultaneously the sight of his misdeed is causing such a swelling of annoyance to build within him that a new emotion arises.   This new emotion is the dark emotion of perverseness, which inspires the main character to hang Pluto.   The main character expresses his guilt while in the process of killing Pluto when he says, “(I) hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offense.”(Poe 537)   This quote reveals the disturbed thought process of the main character which involves the backwards logic of murdering Pluto because the cat had not deserved to have its eye cut out.   The night of the hanging the main character’s...