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When Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Black Cat in 1843 the word paranoia was not in existence The mental illness of paranoia was not given its name until the twentieth century What the narrator is suffering from would be called paranoia today The definition of paranoia is psychosis marked by delusions and irrational decisions This definition could best be described in the nineteenth century as being superstitious and believing that supernatural powers are affecting our decisions Superstition and being taken over by the supernatural is a recurring metaphor for paranoia in Poes story At first the narrator of the story is very caring and loves animals being with animals is one of his principal sources of pleasure 346 The narrators favorite pet is his large entirely black cat named Pluto The narrators wife made frequent allusions to the ancient popular notion that black cats were associated with bad luck evil witches and the devil Poes protagonist does not accept this superstition People still associate black cats with bad luck evil witches and the devil so this foreshadows that something bad will happen in the story The cats name Pluto increases the assumption that the narrator will have bad luck In Greek mythology Pluto was the god of the dead and ruler of the underground The symbolism of the cats name can be used to show that in some way the cat will be involved with death When the narrator returned home after a night of drinking and noticed that Pluto was avoiding him he went on a search for it Upon finding and grabbing Pluto the narrator is bitten in the hand by the cat Because of this bite the fury of a demon instantly possessed the man and he knew himself no longer 347 Since the black cat associated with evil bit the narrator he now has evil inside of him After this attack the narrator first shows signs of mental illness His
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