He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best
Freislyn Santana Revision English 106-112 (College English II) Professor Jaime Gallagher Essay #1- Short Story 11/12/2012 He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best Edgar Allan Poe is an extraordinary writer with many powerful pieces of work, such as The Raven, The fall of the House, and The Tell-Tale Heart. The author’s theme in the story “The Black Cat” is Overconfidence can betray. In his short story “The Black Cat” Poe explores the perils of overconfidence.
Poe’s use of character, tone, and irony develop this dark tale of arrogance with adventure.
To portray his theme, Poe uses the story element “character” towards the ending of the story, illustrating how the narrator believes there is no way he can be caught. IN the flowing days after the murder, he begins to feel free, happy, and secure. His overconfidence becomes evident when the police unexpectedly come to search his home. He felt no embarrassment nor regret in allowing them inside. He accompanied them in the search in a calm and collected manner. As the police prepare to leave, the narrator describes himself as too happy to contain himself and badly wanted to mention a single word of his triumph.
He believes there’s no way he’s going to be caught, and becomes too confident and cocky. His overconfidence leads to his demise. His final act of overconfidence is evident as the police leave, he shows off by brazenly tapping the wall with his cane. The cat cries out from the wall which leads the police to tear down the wall. They find the cat atop the corpse, the same cat the narrator so loathed and believed had ran away. Furthermore, Poe also uses “tone” as a means to portray his theme. Poe establishes calmness when the police arrive to search the home.
The narrator is not in any way nervous or afraid that he might get caught; in fact, he feels secure of his concealment of his wife’s remains. Faced with a police search, the narrator quivered not a muscle. He says “His heart beats calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence. ” He invites the police in assists them in their search. The speaker is obviously calm, and Poe illustrates the tone calm here perfectly while also using a simile, comparing the narrator’s calm heart to that of one whom innocently sleeps.
Lastly, Poe uses irony as a way to demonstrate his theme. The speaker’s thought triumphing over the cat is a good example of irony. The day after he hanged Pluto, his first cat, his house unexpectedly burned down. He imagines seeing in the ruins the shape of a cat imprinted on a wall, a cat with a noose around its neck. It’s clearly ironic that even though he killed the cat, his overconfidence of believing he defeated it leads to the Pluto having the last laugh when the narrator’s house and all his riches burn with it.
Poe illustrates another example of irony when the narrator kills his wife and believes the cat has run away in fear. When the narrator hides his wife’s corpse in the wall and during the search of his home out of overconfidence taps on the wall repeatedly, a cry responds leading the police to tear down the wall and discover the corpse and also the cat. It’s ironic that in the end it was the cat that leads to the narrator’s demise after believing the cat had ran away.
In conclusion, Poe portrays his theme Overconfidence can betray by using story elements such as tone, character, and irony. There are several examples throughout the story and Poe uses them effectively. Imagine the joy and overconfidence combines with the adrenaline that one must have while knowing they’re about to get away with murder. In the end the narrator just couldn’t contain all that emotion. Put yourself in that situation, do you think you could’ve maintained composure and got away with it?