Criticism of The Black Cat

As an author, Poe is a very controversial figure. Hailed as one of the masters of the Gothic genre, he receives much praise for his chilling, horrific tales of death and insanity. Some view him as a literary genius; Others view him a primitive, arbitrary writer. While reviews of his various works range in their position on his writing ability and story telling capacity, his chilling tales serve to delight and captivate readers even today. However, my sole focus lies upon one of his darker stories, The Black Cat. It was first published publicly in the United States Saturday Evening Post on August 19, 1843.
Critique 1: Martha Womack
One of the many organizations working towards clearing up the mysteries and lies shrouding Poe's life, The Poe Decoder, releases information and critiques concerning Poe's literary and personal career. In particular, one of their associates, Martha Womack, has released her own contemporary critical review of Poe's short story The Black Cat. Having a BA degree in English from Longwood College, Martha Womack has been teaching students English and Theatre Arts for several years. As with the Gothic genre, she notes the superstitious and supernatural elements of the story, such as Pluto being an entirely black cat and the allusion to witchcraft. Symbolically, the cat is named after the Roman God of the Dead which furthers the supernatural elements in the story. Womack highlights the use of foreshadowing in the story by Poe's use of key words (one night, one morning, etc) and also even alludes to the death of his wife by saying "At length, I even offered her personal violence." which makes the reader believe more violence is sure to come as the narrator gets progressively more abusive towards his animals. While the tale is supernaturally suspenseful, Womack notes that the narrator is out of his mind. Possible insanity coupled with alcohol abuse makes for a very disrupted sense of reality which could be playing a major role in the telling of the story. Overall, her critique of Poe's short story is an admirable, favorable one as she details all the distinct elements of the story that lend it the eerie, creepy atmosphere it is renown for. In summation, she feels the story is a reminder that "the capacity for violence and horror lies within each of us, no matter how docile and humane our dispositions might appear." (Womack) 
Critique 2: Bryan Aubrey 
Aubrey focuses on the narrator his review of the The Black Cat. He feels that much of the story is credited with its chilling, suspenseful nature due to the obscurity of the mental state of the narrator. He notes that "It is notable that as he writes about his act of gouging out the cat's eye, he says "I blush, I burn, I shudder" but expresses no such feelings when he records the murder of his wife, which he relates in a flat, matter-of-fact tone.(Aubrey)" He feels this makes the narrator's mental state all the more questionable, that one could feel no remorse murdering one's wife. In addition, Aubrey points out a possible correlation between Pluto and his wife, that possibly his hatred for Pluto is symbolic for his hatred of his kind wife. In furthering this point, it was his wife who repeated points out the white tuft of fur on the 'second' cat. So, there may be some symbolic connection between the two most "beloved" things in his life. 
Critique 3: James Gargano
In his review of the Black Cat, Gargano states that he believes " the total organization or completed form of a work of art tells more about the author's sensibility than does the report or confession of one of its characters.(Gargano)"  In Poe's story, he finds that Poe's narrator's insanity functions to keep the reader on their toes about the events of the story. By keeping them alert and suspicious, the reader mentally maintains a pensive analysis in which they can observe the story instead of channeling the narrator and feeling his emotions.The narrator is found to be very contradictory, with this assertion of insanity. First, he blames superstitious powers and insanity then claims to have self control and be truthfully telling the tale. Blaming what's called the "Imp of Perverseness", the narrator tries to explain away his blame, yet he is at fault by having such an awful drinking habit that causes the violence. "Poe, I maintain, is a serious artist who explores the neuroses of his characters with probing intelligence. He permits his narrator to revel and flounder into torment, but he sees beyond the torment to its causes... In short,though his narrators are often febrile or demented, Poe is conspicously "sane" (Gargano)."