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The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
Transcript of The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
By Edgar Allan Poe
Today we'll be analyzing "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe with synopsis, plot element, setting, and conflicts to ultimately understand the overall story.
Author's Background: Edgar Allen Poe
born in Boston in 1809 and soon became an orphan
dropped out of Westpoint in failing as an army officer
married thirteen year old cousin and wrote much about lost love
died at the age of 43
known for poetry and short stories
belongs to literary school of Dark Romanticism
known for emphasis on characters doing something morally wrong that they know about. The “normal world” is dying or in the process of dying. A truth is usually revealed, and is evil.
He published The Black Cat in the August 19, 1843.
Exploring the Plot
Narrator (Intemperance) vs. Cat (Conscience)
The narrator's conscience and alcohol driven self are battling each other throughout the story.
The inciting incident, when the narrator cuts out the cat's eye, is the first instance when the alcohol takes over him and causes him to do harm to what he normally loves.
Old man is introduced as an alcoholic, who married young and his household has many pets, but his favorite is his black cat, Pluto.
The cat's eye is gauged out. This is the first point of tension that gets the major conflict of the man driven by his alcoholism v.s. the cat
Narrator murders his wife after she stops his attempt to rid of the cat.
Hangs cat and house catches on fire. His crazy actions rage on with his intemperance.
The narrator hides the body of his wife in the wall.
The man is thrown into jail/mental insitute. The story is composed of him reminiscing on his actions.
Police discover the dead wife's corpse is hidden within the wall along with the black cat with white fur.
The battle between himself and the conscience begins at the inciting incident for this is when his first violent actions towards the cat are expressed due to alcoholism.
This drives the story on as his violence and madness are brought out towards his wife and the cat
"The Black Cat." Cummings Study Guide. N.p.. Web. 17 Oct 2012. <http://cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/BlackCat.html>.
"Edgar Allen Poe Biography." Bio. True Story. (2012): n. page. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <http://www.biography.com/people/edgar-allan-poe-9443160>.
Womack, Martha. "Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat." The Poe Decoder. (2012): n. page. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <http://www.poedecoder.com/essays/blackcat/>.
Because he is due to die the next day, the narrator has decided to present the facts of a past event that has terrified and destroyed him, and although he claims that he is not mad and hopes that someone else will be able to explain his story logically. He begins by describing his kind and humane younger self: he keeps many pets because animals such as dogs are so loving and faithful, and at a young age he marries a woman who also loves pets. In their household they have a number of animals, including a large and beautiful black cat named Pluto. Although his wife often refers to the superstition that black cats are actually disguised witches, the narrator is particularly fond of the unusually intelligent cat.
In subsequent years, the narrator becomes increasingly moody and irritable due to alcoholism, and he begins to verbally abuse and threaten his wife as well as his pets. He remains less harsh to Pluto until one day, when he comes home drunk and, imagining that Pluto is avoiding him, he seizes the cat, which bites him on the hand in fear. In response, the narrator loses control and cuts one of Pluto's eyes out with a pen-knife. After sobering up the next morning, he feels a modicum of remorse but returns to drinking. The cat recovers, but it conspicuously avoids its owner, who is at first grieved and later annoyed and provoked. He describes it as a primitive impulse of perverseness that drives him to complete his attack on Pluto by hanging the cat from a tree, although he cries as he does the deed, aware that he has committed a deadly sin on an animal that once loved him.
The same night as the cat's death, the house is set on fire, and the narrator, his wife, and his servant barely escape, although he is left with little wealth. Peculiarly, on the single wall that did not fall in the fire is an image of a gigantic cat with a rope around its neck. The narrator explains the phenomenon away, reasoning that someone must have thrown the cat into his window to try to wake him up in the fire and that as other walls fell, they must have compressed the animal into the plaster, where the lime, the heat, and the ammonia from the cat's body combined to form the image. However, he remains disturbed and feels a sense of regret that falls just short of remorse.
For months, the narrator searches for a replacement cat, which he discovers while drinking. The new cat resembles Pluto except for a patch of white hair on its chest. The landlord has never seen the animal before, and the cat takes a liking to the narrator, who brings it home. His wife becomes fond of the cat, but the narrator is increasingly annoyed with the cat's affection towards him, and his annoyance turns into hatred. He begins avoiding the cat, although his shame about his previous cruelty prevents him from being violent towards it. His hatred of the animal increases until one day the cat loses one of its eyes. This endears it even more to his loving wife, who has retained the kindness that the narrator admits he used to have.
In spite of the narrator's dislike for the cat, it follows him everywhere, and he begins to dread the cat, which he calls a "beast." As his wife often points out, the cat bears a distinct resemblance to Pluto, except for the white patch that the narrator notes has gradually come to resemble a gallows. The narrator fearfully explains that he has lost what was left of his former goodness, and he indulges in hatred and fury, although his wife never complains.
At one point, when the protagonist and his wife enter their cellar, the cat trips him. Enraged, he starts to take an axe to the cat, but his wife's hand stops his arm. Furious at her interruption, he strikes her head with the blade, killing her instantly. Realizing that he cannot remove the body from the house, he considers ways to conceal it, including cutting it up and burning it, digging a grave in the cellar, throwing the corpse into the well, and packing it up in a box and having it carried out of the house under the guise of merchandise. Eventually he decides to wall it up with plaster in the cellar behind a false fireplace, leaving no evidence of the deed. The narrator tries to find the cat so he can kill it, but the animal is nowhere to be found, and he sleeps well that night, free of guilt.
On the second and third days, the cat does not appear; inspiring reliefs in the narrator, but on the following day, policemen come to investigate. The narrator calmly cooperates, and the policemen find nothing, despite searching the cellar multiple times. The narrator bids the police farewell, but in a fit of bravado, he mentions that the walls of the house are sturdily constructed, and with a cane, he raps on the wall that hides his wife.
A cry emanates from behind the wall, evolving from a muffled, broken sob into an inhuman scream. Seeing that the game is up, the narrator staggers away from the wall, and after pausing from terror and awe, the police disassemble the wall and find the cat "with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire" sitting on the head of the corpse. The narrator realizes, to his horror, that he must have trapped the cat behind the wall along with his wife.
The story opens in the cell of the prisoner the day before he is to be executed by hanging.
After introducing himself to the readers as a man who underwent a horrifying experience, the prisoner writes down the details of his experience, which to led to his imprisonment and scheduled execution.
The event in this tale are set at his home and in a tavern. Although these events take place over several years, the recounting of these events in writing takes place on a single day in the narrator's prison cell.
Human vs Himself/herself
Madman vs Madman
Explanation : In this story, the guy is fighting with himself on the inside because he starts to do things he know he should not. It is a disease that starts to spread and soon it becomes his worst nightmare.
Human vs Nature
Madman vs Disease he can't explain
Explanation : In this story , the madman fights against a disease that is starting to take over his body and soul. He no longer has control over what he thinks and he has no conscience of what is good and what is wrong.
Human vs Human
Madman vs wife and cat
Explanation : In the beginning when a man gets a cat, he loves it, but when he starts to lose control he has no love for the cat and thinks of it as a disturbance. One night the cat bites him because he grabs the cat. His reaction to this is his diseased side takes over and he cuts the eye out of the cat. Eventually he hangs the cat and kills it. Then he kills the wife because she goes for another cat that he was keeping, but he also developed the feeling that it was an annoyance. The ax he was holding gets lodged into the wife's head and the cat is buried alive in the wall with the wife corpse because the cat tried to help her when he couldn't.