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Themes

Edgar Allan Poe's horror classic "The Black Cat" offers a sinister portrait of the home. Things seem alright in the beginning. A young couple, animal lovers both, get married and fill their home with "birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat" (3). But something, or several somethings, go terribly wrong. The home becomes a scene of domestic abuse and murder. The nameless narrator details the long, slow, brutal destruction of his home life, at his own hands. His story is a gruesome confession, written from his new home, a prison cell. By tapping into our deepest fears and anxieties about home and family "The Black Cat" never fails to chill us to the very marrow of our bones.

Questions About The Home

  1. When reading this story, did you find yourself thinking about your own home life?
  2. Is it significant that the story of Pluto takes place in a wealthy home, while the story of the second black cat takes place in a poor one?
  3. Does this story provide an inroad into discussions of domestic violence? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

By portraying marriage and domestic life so negatively, "The Black Cat" provokes discussions of alternatives to such arrangements.

"The Black Cat" exploits and trivializes issues of domestic violence.

The material poverty of the second home in "The Black Cat" mirrors the poverty of the couple's marriage.

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