"The Black Cat" by Edgar Alan Poe.

Essay by stevecivicJunior High, 9th gradeA+, October 2003

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The Black Cat is one of Poe's famous murder tales. The story is told by the murderer himself, the narrator is speaking to us on the night before his execution for the crime of killing his wife. He tells of how he was a very timid boy, and how his parents provided him with a variety of pets. He cared for these animals and was befriended by them in return. Jumping forward in time, the narrator tells us that he married a woman who shared his affection toward animals. She brought many animals into their home including a large, black cat that they named Pluto. The narrator formed an especially strong bond with Pluto, who became his constant companion.

But as time passed, the narrator and his personality underwent a dramatic change for the worse. Under the influence of alcohol, he became physically abusive to both his wife and their pets.

Even Pluto began to avoid his master. This irritated the narrator. One night after a lot of drinking, he seized the cat by the throat and cut one of Pluto's eyes. On the morning after this incident, the narrator recalls feeling remorse for his inhuman act.

Pluto recovered, but ran in fear whenever the narrator approached. This made the narrator feel sad at first then the sadness grew to rage. Once the rage had reached an unbearable limit the narrator snapped. He impulsively hung the cat from a tree outside his house. That night the narrator's house and worldly possessions were destroyed by a fire. Eerily, the outline of a gigantic cat with a noose around its neck appeared on the one wall of the scorched house. The narrator tried to rationalize this as just a coincidence.

The narrator then began to look...