"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.
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