A Comparison of "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Essay by thezuluHigh School, 10th gradeA+, June 2009

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Edgar Allen Poe is a world renowned master of gothic literature. Poe wrote, "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" two of the most horrific short story masterpieces. Both stories are written in a gothic style and share elements of murder and insanity. Despite the many similarities, digging deeper into the true meaning reveals many differences.

The settings and characters of "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" seem different, but in reality they are alike. On the surface, both stories take place in either a house or an apartment and have eerie and freighting night-time scenes. However, examining the two texts reveals that the stories are told as flashbacks from jail by the main character. For example, the first lines of both stories are about recounting an event. In "The Black Cat", the main character exclaims, "For the most wild, yet homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief."

In "The Tell-Tale Heart", the line is, "True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?" In both stories, the main character thinks that he is not insane and is very cocky and overconfident with the way he commits crime. For example, in "The Tell-Tale Heart", the main character reveals, "You should have seen how wisely I proceeded- with what caution - with what foresight and with dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him." Furthermore, in "The Black Cat", the character of focus says, "Yet, mad am I not - and very surely do I not dream." A difference between the two stories is the fact that in "The Black Cat", an...