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The black cat by Edgar Allan Poe

Poem analysis by Carolina Gómez


Code: 1030561935

1. Characters:

 The narrator:
This character, whose identity we don’t know, describes himself as a sane man who used
to love and pamper animals and once was in love with his wife. As the story develops it
becomes clear that he has a growing problem with alcohol that leads to a violent behavior.

 The narrator’s wife:


She is described as a woman who loves her husband and gets multiple pets for him. She is
also a bit cautious about Pluto (the first black cat), attitude that is described as the result
of a primitive notion that considers black cats are witches in disguise. As her husband gets
lost in alcohol, she becomes a victim of physical and emotional abuse.

 Pluto (The first black cat):


The first cat is described as long, furry and pampered animal. The narrator’s favorite pet
which also suffers the consequences of the narrator’s drinking problems losing and eye
and ultimately losing its life as the narrator hangs it from a tree.

 Second black cat:


This second cat resembles the first one and is described as a loving pet that as the first
one would follow the narrator everywhere. As with Pluto we can see how the narrator’s
view of this animal transforms to the point of viewing it as an unholy beast with a white
spot with gallows shape in its chest.

 Policemen:
These characters are believed to be around six, are the investigators of the events in the
narrator’s house.

 Servant:
This character appears at the beginning of the story showing us that the narrator was
once wealthy before he got troubled by alcohol.
The black cat by Edgar Allan Poe
Poem analysis by Carolina Gómez
Code: 1030561935

2. Plot of the story

The story is narrated in retrospective by a man who is condemned to capital


punishment. He starts by telling the readers how he was a normal kid who grew into
a loving husband and an animal lover. He describes his pets and highlights the
importance of Pluto over all the others. He also describes his marriage, which
started at an early age, with a giving and understanding wife.

As the story develops we see how this happy story starts changing because of a
problem the narrator has with alcohol, which makes him become violent towards
his wife and pets. He starts mistreating everyone but Pluto, but one night he gets
irritated by Pluto’s presence and cuts its eye. Afterwards, he decides to hang the cat
from a tree to kill him.

Many unfortunate events happen after Pluto’s murder; the first one is the fire that
consumes the narrator’s house leaving only one standing wall with an image
depicting the hanging cat.

Then the appearance of a cat that is as a reincarnation of the first one which will
worsen the man’s mental state to a point where he cannot control himself and
attempts to kill it with an axe that ends up in his wife’s head.

Even though he turns into a human killer, the narrator seems to be tranquil at this
point of the story, feeling pride for the fact that he could successfully hide the corpse
and he stopped being persecuted by the second cat.

Finally, when the police came to his house and discovered the corpse and the
missing cat the narrator is arrested and the beginning of the story is fully explained.
The black cat by Edgar Allan Poe
Poem analysis by Carolina Gómez
Code: 1030561935

3. Writing style, literary devices setting and context:

Genre
Thriller, psychological study Imagery
The most dominant image in the
Setting and Context story of the image of the black cat
1843, (unnamed place, possible hung by a cord appearing on the
US), as the narrator is waiting for narrator's wall after his house has
his execution been burned down

Narrator and Point of View Paradox


Unnamed narrator in first person The narrator mentions that, these
walls are solidly put together, as he
Tone and Mood raps on the place behind which his
Grim, tense, dread-inducing wife was buried. The police men
descend on hearing the muffled
Protagonist and Antagonist cries of the cat and bring the wall
The narrator is the protagonist as down in matter of seconds.
well as the antagonist
Parallelism
Major Conflict The narrator, as in a parallel
The narrator has a dormant violent narrative, grows weary of both the
side which leads him to murder his cats he adopts, the one who hated
favorite pet, thus making him him before and the one too friendly
anxious and confused
Synecdoche
Climax In the next, a dozen stout arms
When the narrator murders his were toiling at the wall. - the dozen
wife. stout arms represent the police
men as synecdoche
Foreshadowing
The appearance of the image of Personification
the black cat on the narrator's wall 'The wall did not present the
slightest appearance of having
Understatement been disturbed' The wall is
The wife understated the narrator's personified at 'having been
violent mood swings and continues disturbed.'
to remain with him after he abuses
her and some of his animals.

Allusions
The black cats are alluded to be
witches in disguises.