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The Black Cat': Critical Analysis Essay

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My essay is going to be based on the reading passage taken from the short story written by Edgar Allan Poe; ‘The Black Cat’, which was published in 1845. What I first notice when reading this passage is that the cat idolizes and admires its owner. He says in the text that when he gets up to walk, the cat follows, and when he sits down, the cat ‘would crouch beneath’ his chair or ‘spring upon’ his knees. This proves that the animal adores and respects him. It shows that the animal constantly wants to be near and around the man, meaning it wants his love and affection. Another thing I notice is, when the man is describing or talking about the cat, he says it in a negative way. Examples of this are ‘loathsome caresses’ and ‘long, sharp claws’. He says these things as if they sicken him, as if the ‘caresses’ are disgusting or repulsive, and as if the animal's long, sharp claws’ are weapons or something to be afraid of. These strokes or pats and claws of course are all a part of being a cat, which the creature cannot help. It's in his nature to want to be in contact with his owner, to want his owner's touch, but this man is not willing to offer his affection to the creature. This showed me that the man does not understand the animal he calls his cat.

A pattern I noticed when the man is talking about the cat, is that he refers to it as ‘it’. He does not refer to the cat by its name. In this part of the text taken from the short story, we do not get to know the name of the cat. The man does not care to mention the name of the creature. This shows he does not respect or regard the animal as anything other than an animal that lives within his house. When you call someone by their name, a nickname, or ‘pet name’ it shows respect, love, and affection, it shows that you see this person as your equal. In the text he does not refer to the animal by its given name, but by ‘it’. In the last line of the text he refers to the cat as a ‘beast’. This could show that he is afraid of the animal, or it could show that he is afraid of what he might do to the animal and is reflecting self-judgment onto the creature. He mentions a memory of a past crime when talking about the cat, so this could mean that the cat triggers a remembrance of what he did in the past i.e. the so-called ‘crime’, and he could be projecting his emotions and regrets onto the animal.

After noticing this, I then notice a contrast. The contrast between love and hate; the cat's love for the man, and the man’s hate for the cat. These are two very different feelings and emotions, which contrast each other, in other words, are weirdly opposite but similar. Love portrays adoration, endearment, and devotion, but hate, on the other hand, shows dislike, loathness, and hostility. This shows that the relationship between the man and his cat is one-sided. The man no longer loves or wants the animal and is fed up with it. But with hate there’s love and with love there’s hate, meaning that the man once had loved the cat but, ‘fell out of love’ or his love deteriorated for the creature. If the man had never loved the cat, the cat would not be spoken of or even mentioned, the cat would not be living with him either. To hate someone or something, there must be love somewhere within that feeling.

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I went through many emotions when reading this passage, I felt sorry and empathetic towards the creature. When having a pet, you must love and care for them, but this man clearly does not care for his pet. He does not give the cat the attention and affection it wants and deserves. You must treat people as you would like to be treated, the same must go for animals. Respect in return for respect. I also felt anger. I felt anger towards this man that clearly does not deserve this animal and had no right to treat it the way he does, but I also felt his anger. His anger and hatred for the cat, but I think his anger is fuelled by fear. Fear of what he might do to the cat. In the passage he mentions dread. ‘…let me confess it at once—by absolute dread of the beast’. This shows that he is in fear of the creature and is intimidated. This fear and ‘dread’ fuels his anger and hatred. I also felt fear and sadness. Fear and sadness for what might happen to the cat as his owner loathes him so.

‘The Black Cat’ is a short story written about a man who owns a black cat, obviously by the name, who at first loves the creature. He had multiple pets he shared with his wife, but he was especially close to this one. As time went on, he changed and began to hate and despise the animal. One night he became so overwhelmed with his hatred, he cut out one of the cat’s eyes. After this incident, he and the animal were not as close as they had always been. The creature fled in his presence after the unpleasant incident but this irritated the man, so, one morning he tied a rope around the cat’s neck and hung it from the branch of a tree. As time went on, he got another pet. Similar in color to the last but had a few differences. The main difference is that this cat loved the man and always wanted to be near him, unlike the last. Again, as time went on, the man began to despise the cat, as time passed, hidden hatred began to consume him once more, until one day he had enough. His anger consumed him so much that he decided to try and murder the cat. In trying to kill the animal, his wife, whose name is not mentioned in the passage nor the short story, blocks the blow of his axe. This enrages the man, so he kills her.

The passage taken from the short story showed me how much anger and hatred resided in this man. It made me wonder what the story would be like if he didn’t have all this anger inside him if he didn’t kill his cat or his wife. It made me wonder why he had all this emotion inside him, what was the reason, where did this emotion come from and where was the root of his problems. If the text or passage were changed i.e. the man loved the cat instead of hating it or he didn’t have all this built-up aggression within him, the past cat and his wife would still be alive, and the new cat would be loved and adored.

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The Black Cat’: Critical Analysis Essay. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“The Black Cat’: Critical Analysis Essay.” Edubirdie, 20 Jul. 2023,
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