Literary Devices in The Black Cat

Unreliable Narrator: The narrator of “The Black Cat” is untrustworthy due to his insanity, alcohol abuse, and denial. The unreliable narrator is an old literary trope, but Poe gives the device a twist. The narrator admits from the start of his story that he is not to be trusted. As he states in the opening sentence, “For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.” After that the reader can never quite believe him, which accounts for much of the story’s tension.

Literary Devices Examples in The Black Cat:

The Black Cat 1

"FOR THE MOST wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief...."   (The Black Cat)

Poe introduces an unusual type of narrator: an unreliable narrator who recognizes his own unreliability. The narrator understands that the events he is about to share may come across as fantastical to the reader. This is an interesting narrative ruse by Poe because the story is indeed fantastical. Addressing the story’s seeming fictionality within the narrative gives the events some weight.