Manuel Angel Barreras

Gothic Literature 3407

The Spirit Of Perverseness Within The Gothic Period

Throughout the time period of this semester, There have been many encounters of different gothic texts and ideas that represent different underlying meanings and concepts. Some of these concepts that have been discussed throughout the time spent during the semester are the spirit of perverseness, gothic irony, uncanny, etc. When it comes to talking specifically about the spirit of perverseness, I’d like to focus on stories that compare the characters in the way that they use the spirit of perverseness for what wouldn’t be considered “normal”. In “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “The Black Cat”, The comparison of Dr. Jekyll and the narrator of The Black Cat can show in what ways the use of the spirit of perverseness comes to them as an advantage, yet they end up with a result that seems to be a disadvantage instead. 

Within the story of The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,  the character Dr. Jekyll essentially created the character, Mr. Hyde. From a readers point of view, This can be confusing, but the reasoning behind Mr. Hyde is actually to portray a dark side of Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Jekyll essentially used Mr. Hyde as his scapegoat into a different perspective on the world and what it is like to live with dark thoughts and motives, which realistically means that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same boy, but are two different people within one host. Because of this decision that Dr. Jekyll decides to take for himself, he then, in turn, becomes very sick as Mr. Hyde is becoming very uncontrollable within Dr. Jekyll. According to, “The Strange Case Of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde”, it states “The doctor seemed seized with a qualm of faintness: he shut his mouth tight and nodded. I knew it, said Utterson. He meant to murder you. You have had a fine escape. I have had what is far more to the purpose, returned the doctor solemnly: “I have had a lesson — O God, Utterson, what a lesson I have had! And he covered his face for a moment with his hands” (Stevenson, 1886, Chapter 5). With this specific piece from the text, it is very evident how because Dr. Jekyll wanting to explore the unknown (bad/evil) within himself, the spirit of perverseness, Mr. Hyde seems to gain control over Dr. Jekyll ultimately, and they both become this one evil entity that seeks to do all harm, Which can be connected to the narrator in The Black Cat because they decided to explore the unknown for themselves and it ultimately takes control over them.

To go into specifics of the narrator of The Black Cat, This character was already riddled by evil in his life, they would tend to make decisions for themselves that did not benefit anyone around them, And caused harm to themselves as well.  the narrator was someone that was an alcoholic who would abuse their animals all the time.  Within this story, there is one specific animal that the narrator takes a liking to and doesn’t feel the need to harm them the same way they would harm the other animals that live with them. I feel as if the reasoning as to why this story is named “The Black Cat” Is to show what becomes the focus of the narrator, what seems to be the main factor to take over the narrator as a whole. According to, “The Black Cat”, it states “For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat, there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, but was not, remorse…among the vile haunts which I not habitually frequented” (Poe, 1843, Pages 7-8).  earlier on in the story, The narrator decides to her the animal that he seemed to have cherished the most, and because of this action, the narrator is then haunted by the spirit of the black cat in every aspect of his life. This Spirit of Perverseness that overtook the narrator to harm the cat that he cherishes the most, came with the same consequences that Dr. Jekyll received when his Spirit of Perverseness convinced him to create Mr. Hyde.  within both of these stories, these characters considered taking an action that would lead them to resolve their curiosity, but then in turn inflict harm on them as well. 

Between Dr. Jekyll and the narrator of The Black Cat,  it reveals what could bring out the worst in some characters. Within these two specific characters, the gothic temptation that overtook them became an everlasting effect on their lives showing what the Spirit Of Perverseness can do to someone as a result of taking this temptation. In conclusion, the characters of Dr. Jekyll and the narrator have shown perfect examples of how this term “ The Spirit Of Perverseness”  would be demonstrated in Gothic literature.