The Romantic period has numerous characteristics that help to distinguish it
from other literary periods. A large majority of the pieces found in this period
have at least one of the distinctive elements. Edgar Allan Poe uses a few of
these elements to put a time frame on his short story, “The Black
Cat”. Poe begins his short story by saying that “For the most wild,
yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit
belief”. A big characteristic of Romanticism is a willing suspension of
disbelief. It is never even thought that the plot to the story would be taken as
being true, but rather as a made up story to get the attention of the reader.
This also allows the reader to imagine if such a case were to actually occur.
Each word that is read is meant to be doubted, and thought of as being
absolutely bizarre, and with each new twist more doubt is created. Escapism,
another key factor in Romanticism, is seen throughout the short story. The main
character, who is never specifically identified, is running from his life by
drinking alcohol. The alcohol eventually leads to the destruction of the first
black cat, Pluto. The man felt the need to escape from Pluto even though the
animal was one of his most beloved pets. His wife and the second cat are being
run from merely for the disturbing conscious that they provide for him. Bizarre
and unusual plots are often found in the Romantic period, and Poe does not hold
back in his efforts. To deliberately cut the cats eye out of its socket is both
bizarre and unusual regardless of being intoxicated or not. Even further, to
hang the cat by a noose is ranked borderline for insanity. But the most abnormal
act is that of getting rid of your wife by creating a tomb in the walls of your
home would definitely be insane. Such acts are used in this literary piece to
illustrate clearly that many factors weigh in to the different writing periods.
The Romantic period, known for such elements as improbable plots and unlikely
characters, is an important era in literature. Poe used a very unusual plot to
create a vivid image of what the Romantic period truly was, and his work will be
looked at for years to come.