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Transcript of Poe's Background/Biography
Pluto - god of death
Common way to kill witches was to hang
"pen-knife" - sharpens cat's vison
White patch on second cat - guilt
"The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe
E. A. Poe and "The Black Cat"
Introduced to a narrator that is fond of animals, developed ever since he was little, source of pleasure
Married to a woman who also quickly grew to love pets
Has a cat named Pluto.
Has an alcoholic problem.
One night comes home drunk
Sees pluto and thought he was avoiding him
Lashes out and carves out its eye from its socket
House sets on fire
Finds "bas relief" of gigantic cat
New cat that resembles Pluto appears, that has a white mark resembling THE GALLOWS.
Slowly begins to dislike the cat
Goes down cellar with wife
Cat follows them down, narrator gets angry.
Attempts to hide the body
Places body behind a plastered wall
Cat goes missing
Police about to leave, boasts how wall is well built
Wall falls down
Corpse of dead wife is found with screaming cat
Arrested for murder
Has no wife
Black cat is still alive
Murderer with violent rages
Declares himself sane in the introduction, similar to the "Tell-Tale Heart"
Writing and explaining his story in prison on the night before his death
Also brave for withstanding the narrator's abuse and protecting the cat
Only known as "The Narrator's Wife" not much of her personality is explained
Connected to the idea of the supernatural when she questions superstitions about the black cat
Pluto, the Cat:
Black, large, fuzzy, and intelligent
Was once a pampered pet, and then an abused pet
Believed to be a symbol or representation of children
The Second Cat:
Looks almost exactly like Pluto, except for a white spot
The white spot may be the image of the gallows
Thought to be a supernatural version of Pluto the cat, in the chance Pluto did not die
The Narrator has an uncontrollable drinking problem
Causes him to lash out against his wife and many animals, including his cat, Pluto
The murder of Pluto
Edgar Allan Poe
born January 19, 1809 in Boston, MA
died October 7, 1849 in Baltimore, MD and is still buried there
He married his 13-year old cousin Virginia Clemm and her early death may have inspired some of Poe's writings
Poe struggled with intemperance after Virginia's death, and alcohol is a common motif in Poe's stories
"The Black Cat"
first published in the August 19, 1843, in the Philadelphia edition of The Saturday Evening Post
story was also collected in Tales (1845) by EAP
a study of guilt, often paired in analysis with Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart"
"The Black Cat" was one of Poe's darkest tales. It includes his strongest denouncement of alcohol
Intemperance can bring out the true malevolence in one's person
Alcohol can change even the most loving and caring man into a murderer
When one is guilty, anything can trigger regret and shame
Questions to think about:
How does intemperance bring out the evil in one's person?
Can alcohol change someone completely?
What drives humanity to violence?
Why drives humanity to violence?
Intemperance can alter one's personality completely and cause them to do insane things.
Attempts to kill cat with an axe, instead buries the axe on his wife
"Poe's Life | Edgar Allan Poe Museum." Edgar Allan Poe Museum : Poe's life, legacy, and Works : Richmond, Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2013.
"A short biography of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)." Edgar Allan Poe, short stories, tales, and poems. Design215 Inc, n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2013.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Pen-knife, Eyes, and Vision in The Black Cat" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Black Cat" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Black Cat Characters" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Black Cat Themes" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.