Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Short Story Wednesday: "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe


"The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe (1845)

Sitting in his jail cell, awaiting execution for murder, the narrator revisits the events that led him to his current circumstance. He was a man who loved animals and married a woman of like mind. They were surrounded by animals, one of which was a black cat. His wife liked to talk about the superstitions surrounding black cats, particularly that they were "witches in disguise". Neither one believed it, of course.

Once very close to his cat, Pluto, the narrator begins to change, growing more irritable and moody because of his drinking. He becomes mean and cruel, often taking his anger out on the animals, including his once beloved cat.

Edgar Allan Poe's tale grows in darkness with each sentence, our narrator overtaken by his hatred and loathing for everyone and everything. He spirals downward, finally reaching a terrible end. There are subtle elements of the supernatural (or so the narrator wants us to believe), relying on the superstitions surrounding black cats, but also there is clear evidence that the narrator's alcohol consumption and growing violent outbursts play a large part in his behaviors. "The Black Cat" is at once a horror story and a psychological study. Poe proves yet again that he is a master of suspense.

You can find the story, "The Black Cat", and read it for free on the PoeStories.com.


© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

12 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever read anything by Edgar Allan Poe, though I've heard great things about his work. I'll have to check out that link you mentioned here, Wendy. Thanks!

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  2. I haven't read this one, but I intend to read more of his short stories for RIPV this year. Looking forward to it!

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  3. I've never read this one. Read the Tell Tale Heart (and watched the old movie version) in middle school English. And I recall reading a whole volume of Poe's short stories in elementary school for the sheer fun of it. = )

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  4. I haven't read this one, but I will. Love Poe and have a very black and silky Lucy cat, who can be a little witchy.

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  5. I've read a lot of Poe's stories, but I haven't read this one before.

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  6. This sounds like a good one. I do love Edgar Allan Poe. Thanks for the link to read it for free. I'm off to download it now.

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  7. I was just thinking about this story. I had been doing a search the other day for literature involving cats, specifically black cats.

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  8. It's been a long while since I read this, but I remember it REALLY disturbed me.

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  9. I'm with Nymeth--I read this about three years ago so I don't remember the details but I do remember that this story more than any of the others in the collection I read really bothered me! Poe certainly is master of suspense AND psychological torment! :)

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  10. Thank you all for your comments! I had heard great things about this particular story so when I came across it, I couldn't resist reading it. I've always had a fascination and love for Poe and his writing.

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  11. I read The Black Cat and was disturbed by it. Great post.

    I just posted about a Poe short story too....The Fall of the House of Usher. He's one of my favorites, what a way with words.

    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  12. Recently, a friend told me this was his favorite Poe story so I had to get my Poe book out and read it. Loved it. It's not my favorite, but it's a good one.

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