"The Black Cat," a claustrophobic tale of marital life gone wrong, offers a distinct movement from freedom to confinement. We meet the narrator already in his prison cell, writing, to free himself from his bonds – the literal bonds of the cell, and the bondage confining his mind and heart. How he became so trapped is the subject of his writing and the reason why he has taken the pen to the page. We learn how he traps his wife and pets in a cycle of violence and abuse. As things go from bad to worse, the physical spaces the characters inhabit shrink. While the man's story begins in a house of wealth and comfort (or so he implies) it ends in brick tomb in the cellar of a rundown building.
The narrator of "The Black Cat" feels trapped in his marriage and kills his wife to get out of it; an examination of his description of his sleep patterns support this point.
The story is an allegorical comment on how writers (like the narrator writing from his prison cell) are trapped by their own stories.