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The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

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Black Cat

on 18 October 2012

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Transcript of The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

The Black Cat By Edgar Allan Poe Today we'll be analyzing "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe with plot elements, character relationships, symbols, and conflicts to ultimately understand the overall theme of the tale. Biographical Sketch: Edgar Allen Poe Explaining Important Symbols Pluto and New Cat - narrator's conscience (It is always there with the gallows and inability to be killed, as a reminder of the terrible crime he committed due to his alcoholism and twisted mind set. ) Cannot rid of/ kill it- “I aimed a bow at the animal which..would have proved fatal..as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife...I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain.” The new cat's resemblance in that it is missing an eye and the white spot on the fur in the shape of the gallows is there to haunt and constantly remind him of the horrible crime. “It had at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline...the image of hideous...-The GALLOWS!- oh, mournful and terrible engine of horror and of crime." The coincidence that the cats are black symbolizes the evil that follows him (black represents evil commonly). Black cats in superstition are evil or as his wife states are “witches in disguise”. Pluto in Roman mythology is ruler of underworld. 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. Think “The Cask of Amantillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” in that they portray madness followed through with crimes that show their true evil. This is Poe’s common writing style which fits under Dark Romanticism
His own intemperance drives him to wound the cat and smother his morals. The inciting incident of him initially harming his conscience is driven by the evil inside of him, which is portrayed as alcohol. Alcoholism- evil within him Through the wall he attempts to hide the evidence of his crime, the dead wife’s corpse and the cat. As well as physically hiding the evidence, he is also trying to mute his conscience and any ounce of reminder of the good that was once inside of him. The wall- temporary containment of narrator's conscience/ representation of bad deeds. How does the antagonist influence the protagonist? Character Relationships Protagonist- The Narrator (driven by intemperance )
Antagonist- The Cat (conscience)
What influence do other characters have on the pro and antagonist? Exploring the Plot Major Conflict 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. Characters:
Old Man
Black cat with white fur
Policemen Exposition:
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 protagonist (The narrator) tries to ignore his wrongdoings but the antagonist (cat) serves as his conscience of everything he has done in the past.
*In the story this man transforms from an animal lover to an animal abuser and murderer under the influence of alcohol.
*He blames his actions on the cat.
*Some would say that the second cat was the reincarnation of Pluto. Relationship between he and his wife is an important aspect of the story
His violence overcomes his relationship with her, seen in his murdering her after her attempt to save his own conscience (the cat).
She can be seen as the good inside of her as she tries to preserve the conscience and exemplifies his own violence and madness. Inciting incident:
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 Climax:
Narrator murders his wife after she stops his attempt to rid of the cat. Rising Action:
Hangs cat and house catches on fire. His crazy actions rage on with his intemperance. Falling action :
The narrator hides the body of his wife in the wall. Denouement:
The man is thrown into jail/mental insitute. The story is composed of him reminiscing on his actions. Resolution:
Police discover the dead wife's corpse is hidden within the wall along with the black cat with white fur. Major Conflict Narrator vs. Cat (his own conscience)
Narrator vs. Intemperance

Overall it comes down the the conflict being the narrator vs. himself expressed in the story through the effective use of symbols by Poe The narrator's physical battle with the cat, expressed through his violent and abusive actions towards it, show how he battles with his own conscience over the choices of doing something right or wrong.

Ultimately one nor the other cannot win 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 Theme What do you think this picture represents? The guilt trapped within one's conscience will haunt them to their downfall. Citations "The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe." Literature Network . (2012): n. page. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <http://www.online-literature.com/poe/24/>. "The Black Cat Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory."
shmoop. (2012): n. page. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <http://www.shmoop.com/black-cat-poe/symbolism-imagery.html>. "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/>.
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