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The Black Cat ,by Edgar Allan Poe- A Sample Response Essay

Updated on June 6, 2013


The Black Cat is a short story based on a man, who is extremely fond of pets. His wife also share the same disposition as him. The narrator and his wife have several kinds of pet. But a cat named Pluto is narrator's favorite pet. The cat and the narrator had a special kind of affection for each other. The cat would follow the narrator all around. In the house on the street, everywhere.

But suddenly the narrator develops alcoholic habit and starts abusing his wife and their pets except for Pluto. But one night when he returns home drunk, Pluto ignores the narrator due to change in narrators disposition. Narrator feels as if he was betrayed by his loving pet and tries to get a hold of Pluto but , Pluto attacks him as a self defense. Due to the attack narrator commits a heinous crime of pulling out one eye from the cat's eye socket. Unable to bear the burden of constant reminder of the crime the narrator finally decides to kill the cat by hanging it on a tree.

That very night narrator's house burns down unexpectedly while he barely escapes the fire. Not long after this event , the narrator finds himself a second cat. Almost identical to Pluto except for a little white area on its chest. They grew fond of each other the same way the narrator and Pluto were.

But one day narrator, accidentally slips on the cat in the cellar. He gets angry with the cat and tries to kill this cat too, but the wife steps in between resulting of killing of wife. After the narrator had committed one more heinous crime he buries his wife in the wall of the cellar.

He tries to find the cat, which was not to be found anywhere.

One day the police stop by his house, suspecting something, but never able to pinpoint. The narrator subtly confesses to his crimes. But at the same time police and the narrator hear a cry from behind the wall. On breaking the wall they find the wife's body and on its head the black cat with red eyes. The narrator had buried the cat alive in the wall with his wife's dead body.

From what it seemed the narrator was sent a death row as he mentions that today was probably his last day. The story opens with him saying that and then goes into flashback.


In the short story "The Black Cat" by Edgar Poe Allan, Poe interestingly catches my attention by developing the plot and character quickly yet cunningly twisted. A short summary in my point of view about the story would be a man whose habit and his way of thinking destroys himself, his wife and his pets and finally ends up on a death row. After reading further, there were many questions that were raised in my mind. The most prevalent of all the question was how much can be rationally explained? And are superstition real?

As for the story it starts out to be a flashback by narrator who is never identified, for what I consider, Poe wanted to make him seem similar to every other human being. The narrator had a peculiar character. He was very fond of pets. He considered himself as highly docile and humane which is why he had so many variety of pets. The pets in his house included "birds, goldfish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat"(1155).Pluto the cat of all pets was the narrator's favorite.

After reading the title itself the first thing that came into my mind was a black cat superstition. Cats have always held variety of notions in mythology among st all cultures, especially a black cat. Majority of humans have always associated black cat with something bad and evil. Moreover when i came across the cat named as Pluto, further in the reminded me of the Roman mythology, the god of dead and underworld. Additionally I myself have always believed that cats have nine lives.

The story soon converts into a plot full of surprises and heinous crimes committed by the narrator when the narrator develops addiction to alcohol. From what I understand this was no ordinary addiction. At one point he referred to it as " fiend intemperance"(1155), translating into demonic/wicked level of alcoholism. Due to the changes brought about in his disposition, by his new habit, his pets started to ignore him, like most other alcoholic I have heard about, he started ti abuse his wife, his marital life started to disintegrate. The fact that all pets ignored him including his beloved cat made him furious that he cut one of the cat's eye out from socket, which I believe made him seem as betrayed.

Not long after that heinous crime he was unable to bear the burden of his so called " docile and humane" nature which had transformed into alcoholic abuser. To me because of his way of thinking (perverseness), he made the deviant choice of hanging the cat on a tree and killing him.

On that very night a strange event occurs, his house burned down, leaving him with very little wealth. The strangest part to my surprise is that a wall which had survived the fire held an image of cat like creature similar to Pluto. Although unable to differentiated if this was real or his mind was playing tricks on him, leaves the narrator shocked for a while.

This very event brought my mind to additional notion held by ancient Egyptians. Egyptians considered cats as sacred and thought cat brought wealth and good luck to family. They also believed killing a cat was one of the lowest crimes one could commit and killer of the cat would be killed for sure. How true is that in this situation? The narrator is poor and barely escaped the fire.

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Do you feel sorry for what happens to narrator in the end?

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Not to long after murder of Pluto narrator finds himself a second cat. Greatly similar to Pluto in almost every characteristic but a area with white fur around the chest . Narrator's wife also pointed out that the cat "it also had been deprived of one eye"(1158). Doesn't the popular superstition about cat having nine lives come into play? Seems as though it does to me.

Again because of constant reminder of what he had done to Pluto, the narrator seems to get agitated by the site of the cat and tries to kill the cat because of accidental tripping over the cat. But in this case, the wife stops him, now with almost psychopath mentality , the narrator kills his wife and buries her insider cellar's wall, along with the alive second cat.

The police show up unexpectedly to the house, and in a subtle way narrator admits to his crime, from what it seemed like when the story started the narrator was going to die tomorrow and that could be a death row.


Nevertheless, though never revealed in the story about these superstition being true or just imaginary plot constructed by narrator because of his biased point of view, rest unanswered. But if one were in my place and knew about the superstitions, he/she would certainly believe in them coming true. Moreover if a reader does not believe in superstition we can all come to one conclusion without any argument The narrator's habit and perverseness were the cause of his destruction and most of the reader would not feel sorry for him.


This essay is solely based on my opinion, this is an example for what one could write in an essay with similar topic. Responding to literature is,(your,reader's response) in this case mine and so it is from my point of view. A reader can agree or disagree with it.

The source i have used is book.

Responding to Literature, Judith Stanford, 5th edition.

Always welcomed to leave a comment or anything worth editing, would really appreciate my valuable reader's feedback.

Thank You.


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    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      My pleasure

    • GwennyOh profile image


      6 years ago

      A great and insightful review based upon a masterpiece of a work. Thanks for sharing.


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