The Black Cat

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I approached it, and touched it with my hand. It was a black cat — a very large one — fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast. Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it of the landlord; but this person made no claim to it — knew nothing of it — had never seen it before.

I continued my caresses, and, when I prepared to go home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favorite with my wife.

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me. This was just the reverse of what I had anticipated; but I know not how or why it was — its evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually — very gradually — I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.

What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures. With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase.

The Black Cat / Edgar Allan Poe

It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome caresses.


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If I arose to walk it would get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly it at by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly — let me confess it at once — by absolute dread of the beast. This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil — and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. My wife had called my attention, more than once, to the character of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the sole visible difference between the strange beast and the one I had destroyed.

The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees — degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful — it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline. It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name — and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared — it was now, I say, the image of a hideous — of a ghastly thing — of the GALLOWS!

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a brute beast — whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed — a brute beast to work out for me — for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God — so much of insufferable wo! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight — an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off — incumbent eternally upon my heart!

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Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates — the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas!

One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain.

She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan. This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors. Many projects entered my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire.

At another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard — about packing it in a box, as if merchandize, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these. I determined to wall it up in the cellar — as the monks of the middle ages are recorded to have walled up their victims.

For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been filled up, and made to resemble the rest of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily displace the bricks at this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could detect anything suspicious. And in this calculation I was not deceived.

By means of a crow-bar I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that position, while, with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster which could not be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brick-work.

When I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rubbish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. My next step was to look for the beast which had been the cause of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the moment, there could have been no doubt of its fate; but it appeared that the crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, and forebore to present itself in my present mood.

It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance during the night — and thus for one night at least, since its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul! The second and the third day passed, and still my tormentor came not.

Once again I breathed as a free-man.

The monster, in terror, had fled the premises forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a search had been instituted — but of course nothing was to be discovered. I looked upon my future felicity as secured. Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the premises.

Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in their search. They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence. I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly satisfied and prepared to depart.

The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this — this is a very well constructed house. These walls — are you going, gentlemen? But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb!

Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. It works on a purely narrative level in the same deliciously macabre way of Poe's best work, and provides another keen insight into irrationality and the demons lurking inside the human heart. View all 17 comments. Dec 01, Nick rated it really liked it. Poe's short stories are so similar to each other. Sometimes I wonder why I like reading them so much. He was a genius. This depicts a man who has completely lost himself to his illness. He was once happy. He was once sane. He had a loving wife and a warm home full of pets. But, his illness took over; it sent him into fits of blind rage in which he abused that which he professed to love; he neglected his animals and beat his wife.

However, for a time, he left his favourite amongst them in peace. He left his beloved black cat alone. Well, until one day where he was sent over the edge and decided to stab the poor c This depicts a man who has completely lost himself to his illness.

Edgar Allen Poe's Dark Tale of Descent Into Madness

What a bastard. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. His illness is his alcoholism or so he says.


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So, he causes it himself; he knows the rage that drink brings him yet he persists in its consumption. It seems like a convenient excuse for a deranged man to me. This, to me, is just stupidity. I suppose you could argue that the alcohol ruined him and destroyed his mind, but, again, that seems like an excuse. He claims to have loved the cat, and his actions suggest that he did so beyond his wife. Yet, he immediately tries to replace the cat after he hangs it. Surely, such an animal would be irreplaceable to him regardless of whether or not he killed it?

Surely, no other cat would be the same? Unless the alcohol destroyed his love and turned him to bitterness. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. The narrator is incredibly repulsive and disgustingly grotesque. Humorously, he even tries to blame the cat when the problem clearly resides within his own head. His mind has been tainted whether by alcoholism, madness or some other dark force I cannot fully say.

He has somehow convinced himself that the cat harbours the soul of a witch. This has been emphasised, to his mind, by its lack of an eye. He thinks it sees straight through him and sees his dark soul; thus, it too must be killed. Animal cruelty is a terrible thing, and I must admit that some of the description made me somewhat angry. The narrator is an evilly insane man, which Poe captured perfectly. But, overall, it is a marvel of writing. I'm glad the cat got the last laugh. View all 5 comments. May 28, Stephen rated it it was ok Shelves: ebooks , short-fiction , classics , horror , animalistic.

Of course, as a member of the GLASS Association Get Lousy Drunk and Sing Showtunes , I will say that I found the negative portrayal of excess alcohol consumption to be both misleading and offensive and may have allowed that anger to color my opinion. The writing was fine, though I think Poe Boy has certainly shown far more literary prowess than he displayed here.

Still, I would easily have forgiven less than brilliant prose if the story had been good. Much of this had to do with the story dynamic which just felt forced and far-fetched. The story begins with Mr. So Dr. Doolittle begins sampling the local fermented beverages and quickly becomes a raging alcoholic madman who not only HATES animals, but enjoys committing surgical atrocities on them…. The journey from Mike Brady to Hannibal Lector was just too much of a stretch and the story's arms weren't long enough to reach. Even the trademark dread that Poe is usually so good at imbuing in his stories was almost totally absent.

Thus, for me, a disappointment given how much I have loved many of his stories. View all 15 comments. Sep 13, Janete rated it it was amazing. I listened to the audiobook and read the original text in English and also the translated text into my mother language Portuguese. The narrator was so great! And Edgar Allan Poe was a genius! View all 4 comments. I loved this story when I was eight years old.

I feel like this story could apply to many situations, those times when we unintentionally hurt a friend or family member out of spite, times when we decide that misery loves company and shove our pain onto the shoulders of another person - or in this case an animal - and the cat comes to represent a darker force as it gives its abusive owner his comeuppance. View all 10 comments. I like Edger Allan Poe's stories very much. They are so deep and give very horrifying feelings to me. I liked this story too.

While reading, I was feeling that I had experienced something like this before.

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But I couldn't know from where. It turned out, The Tell-tale Heart was similar to this one. That's why. I highly recommend this story to everyone. Feb 06, Mansuriah Hassan rated it it was amazing Shelves: classics , favorites. So after reading this short story, I was immediately intrigued. Edgar Allan Poe is literally the master of horror! Poe gives a disturbing creepy glimpse into the mind of the narrator. The narrator begins with his kind and human younger self. In subsequent years he descended into madness and violence due to the addiction of alcohol.

Animal cruelty is a terrible thing, it was a very uncomfortable read and made me squirmed when the narrator detailed his cruelty. The story is perfectly eerie and dark. I personally think that a truly scary and disturbed bad guy is the strength of any story. I would like to invite all of you to read it here The Black Cat I particularly loved the ending.

The Black Cat is a story adorned by unexpected twists and a surprising ending, completed with Poe's grand writing style. My love for Edgar Allan Poe's short stories began in seventh grade. My language arts teacher was a very dramatic looking woman: skeletally thin with long raven black hair which was parted in the middle and tightly pulled back into a chignon, revealing razor-sharp cheekbones. No person alive could install more of a sense of horror and dread in us than she did as she read Poe's stories aloud to our class.

And we loved it! The narrator of this story, who is confessing his sins while awaiting the punishment for his crimes, wants to blame everything on intemperance and 'the primitive impulses of the human heart,' but it soon becomes obvious that this man is totally remorseless and insane and is getting what he so richly deserves!

Marvelous atmospheric story--perfect for the Halloween season or any time you want a good scare! View all 6 comments. This book is great. The suspense keeps you on your toes until the very end. Then it all comes together. In this story, The Black Cat a guilt-ridden man is driven to a level of madness by the terrible acts he commits. The man and his wife have a cat named Pluto. The man and the cat have a loving friendship lasts for several years.

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"The Black Cat" Study Guide

That is un home intoxicated one night and believes the cat is dodging him. He tries to pick the cat up only to be bit causing him to lose his logical side and turns to This book is great. He tries to pick the cat up only to be bit causing him to lose his logical side and turns to a fit of rage. This short story was an intense read.

Not all of Poe's stories works for me, but this one definitely does. It deals with animal cruelty and domestic violence, and some of it was uncomfortable. But I really like it when literature makes me feel something strongly - even if its something bad. It shows both the power and the importance of literature. Cozy, funny reads are great, and sometimes they're exactly what I need. But it is stories that challenge me or make me feel something intensely that r This short story was an intense read. But it is stories that challenge me or make me feel something intensely that really fascinate me.

When a story really works for you, I think its a bit like a detailed visualization of biting into a lemon - spend a few minutes on this, and your mouth starts to water. Your body reacts to an imaginary lemon as if it was a real one. But the fact that an author can write about so many different things not just lemons , and it makes my mind and body and feelings react to it makes me think that a book is really a half-created thing, a story brought into existence only by the act of reading, like a merging of the author's mind and the reader's, and a very personal and individual thing each time it happens.

A lot of people find Poe boring. I think they have heard that he is the father of the detective novel, a master of horror and suspense, and they go into it with expectations based on much more action-filled and fast paced stories. Maybe because that's what they have come to expect from these genres beforehand.

But the key to enjoying Poe is to let each story grow on you. Read him slowly, when you're alone and have plenty of time, and allow the story and atmosphere to creep ever so slowly under your skin. With Poe it's usually a very slow build up, very little is revealed in the beginning, and information is withheld and postponed for a long time.

It builds and builds, and the reader has to be somewhat patient and cooperative - just go with it, is my best advice. Poe will get to you, in the end. Nov 17, Sh3lly rated it really liked it Shelves: read , classics-stupid , short-book , horror , 4-stars.

Edgar Allan Poe

I think this is my favorite so far. Definitely the darkest and most violent. The main character is very disturbing and appears to be driven to insanity by alcoholism? I would guess bad tub gin or whatever the more poisonous, cheap stuff was would do the trick. He turns from a mostly normal, kind man into a violently psychopathic one. He was so tender of heart, he would get bullied by others, and he loved animals.

There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which go I think this is my favorite so far. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man. His best friend, a big black cat, turns into his most despised enemy, unbeknownst to the poor cat!

Trigger warnings: animal abuse! Sep 06, Eliza rated it liked it Shelves: classics , gothic , fiction , horror , 3-stars , short-story , mystery , reviewed. Nov 04, Althea Ann rated it really liked it. It's true, animal abusers tend to be psychopaths. Here, Poe gives us a disturbing glimpse into the mind of a man who shows no remorse for his deeds and is eager to blame outside factors for his own decisions. The story, published in , still has the ability to shock, even today.

View 1 comment. It is horrible in an entirely literal sense, and is one of the darkest stories Poe ever wrote. It is a psychological study of guilt and madness resulting in part from alcoholism. This is an interesting stance taken by the author, since Poe himself was reputedly an alcoholic. Masterly though it is, I dislike this story intensely with its depiction of view spoiler [animal torture and the murder of his wife. There are themes recognisable from other stories; the murderer's guilt resulting in unearthly cries from the cat is similar to that felt by the character in the increasingly loud thumps of the heart in "The Tell-Tale Heart".

In both cases there is a surreal element where the reader assumes it is the murderer's conscience inventing the second cat - and the grotesquely beating heart. The entombment alive was a favourite theme of Poe's. Dec 25, Clumsy Storyteller rated it really liked it Shelves: reading-assignment , absolute-favorite , creepy-as-fuck , definitely-worth-reading , favorites. What a disturbed, brilliant mind!!

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