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 Post subject: The Black Cat Question #2 - A Tale of the Supernatural?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:29 am 
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Do you think this story illustrates an ordinary succession of natural cause and effect or is it a tale of the supernatural?



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:31 am 
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I think that the cat represents his demise into alcoholism and madness. I think it is cause and effect in that he has really gone mad. It does have a suprnatural feel to it but I felt alot of it was in his mind..the madness of alcoholism.
Just my opinion.



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:23 pm 
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I agree with johnnybloom but want to add that I think there was a psychological element, also, in that guilt seemed to play a large part. He seemed to have a pleasant childhood and be a loving guy , then turn into an easily enraged abuser when fueled by alcohol. After he cut out the cat's eye in one of these rages, I think that the presence of the cat made him feel very guilty. So he hangs the cat and gets a new one, but the guilt will not go away and drives him crazier and leads him to kill his wife. And, even though he was acting very calm and collected at the end of the story, I think the raging guilt would have returned if he hadn't been caught.
Poe doesn't want us to have just a nice cause and effect story, however, even though he pretends to. He has to throw in the impression of the hung cat on the wall and the gallows marking on the second cat. Can they be explained naturally or not? Hmmmnnn? :investigate:



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:31 pm 
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I agree with both of you. I think it is a psychological thriller. But Poe also uses certain devices to make us wonder if there is a supernatural element. He makes us wonder, too, if the second cat is the same cat come back to torture the protagonist.



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:00 pm 
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Very supernatural thought, Liz!! :yikes:



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:09 pm 
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I don't know that Poe would have drawn a line between the natural and supernatural. There are elements that I personally would consider supernatural in almost all of his work.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:22 pm 
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Well, even tales of the supernatural can have cause and effect :grin: ..I always struggle with chicken and egg questions :baby:



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:31 pm 

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I love the way Poe makes the explanation behind the events of the tale very ambiguous--they could be part of the narrator's alcohol-deranged imagination; they could be caused by supernatural forces. But I think the logical, scientific explanation that the narrator offers is something Poe is mocking in this tale: the narrator is resisting belief in the supernatural or his own total depravity, and his efforts are so extreme they're sometimes funny. I always chuckle at his "logical" explanation that someone of course found the cat hanging from the tree, and there was a fire in the house, so whoever found the cat cut it down and threw it in his window: "This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep." Always handy to have a dead cat around to throw in the window so you can save someone from a fire. I need something to throw in the window--oh, this dead cat will do!

I also want to add that Stephen King's original "Secret Window, Secret Garden" story seems to pay homage to Poe's "Black Cat," or shall I save that for later?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:53 pm 
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Still-Rather-Timid wrote:
I love the way Poe makes the explanation behind the events of the tale very ambiguous--they could be part of the narrator's alcohol-deranged imagination; they could be caused by supernatural forces. But I think the logical, scientific explanation that the narrator offers is something Poe is mocking in this tale: the narrator is resisting belief in the supernatural or his own total depravity, and his efforts are so extreme they're sometimes funny. I always chuckle at his "logical" explanation that someone of course found the cat hanging from the tree, and there was a fire in the house, so whoever found the cat cut it down and threw it in his window: "This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep." Always handy to have a dead cat around to throw in the window so you can save someone from a fire. I need something to throw in the window--oh, this dead cat will do!

I also want to add that Stephen King's original "Secret Window, Secret Garden" story seems to pay homage to Poe's "Black Cat," or shall I save that for later?


The above made me laugh out loud.....until I read the last sentence. :shhh: Well you can all be contemplating your answers for that question now. :lol:



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:00 pm 
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When I saw that we were reading Poe this week I was excited, because I love his writing. The Tell-Tale Heart. Check. The Pit and the Pendulum. Check. Fall of the House of Usher. Check. The Purloined Letter. Check. The Black Cat. Hmmmm. Don't remember reading that one, I thought.
When I started reading I realized why I couldn't remember it....When he cut out the cat's eye....eeekk. hate to even type it. I stopped reading it and never finished it. I did the same this time, but I'm determined to finish it this week....but am dragging my feet on it...
Hey, I'm a big girl, I can handle it. Can't I? :-O Don't know why it creeps me out so much. Maybe I'm too much of a cat lover.
bluebird



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:32 pm 
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bluebird wrote:
When I saw that we were reading Poe this week I was excited, because I love his writing. The Tell-Tale Heart. Check. The Pit and the Pendulum. Check. Fall of the House of Usher. Check. The Purloined Letter. Check. The Black Cat. Hmmmm. Don't remember reading that one, I thought.
When I started reading I realized why I couldn't remember it....When he cut out the cat's eye....eeekk. hate to even type it. I stopped reading it and never finished it. I did the same this time, but I'm determined to finish it this week....but am dragging my feet on it...
Hey, I'm a big girl, I can handle it. Can't I? :-O Don't know why it creeps me out so much. Maybe I'm too much of a cat lover.
bluebird


bluebird, I know how you feel. Cats are my favorite animals, and I couldn't believe what happened to the poor cat in this story. :yikes: Then again, I guess I should have expected something dark and creepy like that to happen...after all, it's a story from Edgar Allen Poe!

I'm surprised I have never read The Black Cat before. I remember studying Poe's work during my sophomore year of high school, and we read and analyzed several of his stories, but not The Black Cat. At least I have the chance to read it now. :cool:



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:45 pm 

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bluebird wrote:
When I saw that we were reading Poe this week I was excited, because I love his writing. The Tell-Tale Heart. Check. The Pit and the Pendulum. Check. Fall of the House of Usher. Check. The Purloined Letter. Check. The Black Cat. Hmmmm. Don't remember reading that one, I thought.
When I started reading I realized why I couldn't remember it....When he cut out the cat's eye....eeekk. hate to even type it. I stopped reading it and never finished it. I did the same this time, but I'm determined to finish it this week....but am dragging my feet on it...
Hey, I'm a big girl, I can handle it. Can't I? :-O Don't know why it creeps me out so much. Maybe I'm too much of a cat lover.
bluebird


Me, too, bluebird and Johnny Fanatic. I think this is one of the things that makes the story so horrifying: the idea that someone who loves his pet as much as I love mine (I dote on my cat!) could suddenly change and be so cruel. I could never hurt my cat, and I'd hate to think what I might do if I saw anyone else try to hurt him! He's a big black, tuxedo cat, just like Poe's narrator's second cat and "Bump" in Stephen King's "Secret Window, Secret Garden."


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:32 pm 
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Still-Rather-Timid wrote:
Me, too, bluebird and Johnny Fanatic. I think this is one of the things that makes the story so horrifying: the idea that someone who loves his pet as much as I love mine (I dote on my cat!) could suddenly change and be so cruel. I could never hurt my cat, and I'd hate to think what I might do if I saw anyone else try to hurt him! He's a big black, tuxedo cat, just like Poe's narrator's second cat and "Bump" in Stephen King's "Secret Window, Secret Garden."


I love animals too. I personally don’t think it is possible to love animals and commit such atrocities. I also have to say that this story was not my first choice, just for that reason. But The Tell Tale Heart just didn’t have as meaty a plot as The Black Cat. I didn’t think we’d get as much discussion out of that.

In fact, now would be the time to discuss the difference between the two, for those of you who have done your extra credit homework.



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:51 pm 

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I think "The Black Cat" was a great choice, Liz, because, as several ONBCers have pointed out, they'd never read it before, and everyone has read "The Tell-Tale Heart," and probably discussed it in school. Now people who haven't read "The Black Cat" have discovered a new Poe tale and we can compare it to the one we all know so well. And "The Black Cat" is one of Poe's most wonderfully creepy tales.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:14 am 
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Still-Rather-Timid wrote:
bluebird wrote:
When I saw that we were reading Poe this week I was excited, because I love his writing. The Tell-Tale Heart. Check. The Pit and the Pendulum. Check. Fall of the House of Usher. Check. The Purloined Letter. Check. The Black Cat. Hmmmm. Don't remember reading that one, I thought.
When I started reading I realized why I couldn't remember it....When he cut out the cat's eye....eeekk. hate to even type it. I stopped reading it and never finished it. I did the same this time, but I'm determined to finish it this week....but am dragging my feet on it...
Hey, I'm a big girl, I can handle it. Can't I? :-O Don't know why it creeps me out so much. Maybe I'm too much of a cat lover.
bluebird


Me, too, bluebird and Johnny Fanatic. I think this is one of the things that makes the story so horrifying: the idea that someone who loves his pet as much as I love mine (I dote on my cat!) could suddenly change and be so cruel. I could never hurt my cat, and I'd hate to think what I might do if I saw anyone else try to hurt him! He's a big black, tuxedo cat, just like Poe's narrator's second cat and "Bump" in Stephen King's "Secret Window, Secret Garden."


I am not a cat lover, not in the least. But what you've all been saying above about the cause and effect is to the point-I think it is a psych thriller, and like the best of that genre, it shows us just what evil there can lie hidden in the mildest of us, and just how some apparently harmless event can set it off. The evil that's inside all along is much more frightening than that from externalities; it shows the reader that they are not above or immune from the act in the story. The act of mutilating the cat can be paralleled by all sorts of incidents we read of all too often, a parent who abuses a chld for example, or a shooting at a workplace.



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