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Metaphor in The Black Cat

Metaphor Examples in The Black Cat:

The Black Cat

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"I had walled the monster up within the tomb!..."   (The Black Cat)

The final image—that of the dead wife and cat sealed behind the plaster wall and then broken free—serves as a metaphor for the entire story. Those brutal tendencies the narrator had sealed away in his psyche were impossible to keep concealed. Just as his violent urges could not be contained, the consequences of those urges burst into public view in the final scene.

"it was now, I say, the image of a hideous—of a ghastly thing—of the GALLOWS!..."   (The Black Cat)

The image of the gallows—the scaffolding from which the condemned are hanged—serves a dual purpose here. On one level, it signifies the narrator’s murder of Pluto. On another, it foreshadows the narrator’s coming death. The cat and the narrator have a relationship defined by both metaphor and metonymy: that which the narrator does to the cat he does to himself. The cutting out of the cat’s eye represents the splitting of the narrator’s soul. The narrator’s hanging of Pluto directly leads to his own hanging.

"The impression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous...."   (The Black Cat)

The image of the impression of the cat serves as a nice visual metaphor for the narrator’s conscience. The cat has left a mark, literally on the wall and figuratively on the narrator’s mind.

"The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance,..."   (The Black Cat)

Eyes are an age-old symbol for the soul. We are to understand that, by cutting out one of the cat’s eyes, the narrator separates his own soul in two, and destroys half of it. This metaphor reinforces the narrator’s duality, and it gives us an image of the ruin of his good half.

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