Poe's Stories

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A loyal companion, named Pluto, whom the narrator loves but begins to mistreat when his cruel humor intensifies—the narrator gouges out Pluto's eye and then hangs the cat from a tree. After its death, the cat seems to take on a supernatural existence in the double that the narrator stumbles upon at a den of disrepute. Provoked by the narrator’s guilt and paranoia, the cat appears to return in the body of a doppelganger, this time with a white patch on his breast in the shape of a gallows, warning the narrator of his fate. The cat becomes a symbol of the narrator’s delusional, altered state.

The Black Cat Quotes in Poe's Stories

The Poe's Stories quotes below are all either spoken by The Black Cat or refer to The Black Cat. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Poe's Stories published in 2006.
The Black Cat Quotes

I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.

Related Characters: Narrator (The Black Cat) (speaker), The Black Cat (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator of the story tortures his own cat by gouging out one of its eyes with his knife. What's interesting to notice in this passage is that the narrator seems both remorseful and remorseless as he describes how he tortured his pet. On one hand, the narrator describes the cat as a "poor beast," and claims that he shudders as he writes about his own actions. On the other hand, the narrator seems to have hurt his cat without any real remorse at the time-it's only later that he begins to regret his actions.

In short, the narrator is a deeply divided person--simultaneously good and evil, attracted and repelled by crime. In Poe's stories, the narrators' greatest enemies are themselves--they're trapped by their own divided natures, and can't commit a crime without later being wracked by their own self-hatred.

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The Black Cat Character Timeline in Poe's Stories

The timeline below shows where the character The Black Cat appears in Poe's Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Black Cat
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...love of pets, and filled their house with a host of them, including a black cat. (full context)
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
This cat was unusually large and intelligent. The narrator of "The Black Cat" remembers how his wife... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...very bad temper, in which he even lost patience with the animals, and even with Pluto. One night, drunk, the narrator returned home, and imagined that Pluto was avoiding him. This... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...the morning, the narrator of "The Black Cat" felt horrible about the cruel act. The cat’s eye socket healed, but he now knew to avoid the narrator and their bond was... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...narrator realizes that within the wall, there is a shape in relief, of the murdered cat. (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...narrator of "The Black Cat" tries to logically explain how it could have happened. The cat must have been thrown into the window when people saw the flames and gotten stuck... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...day, in a den of disrepute, the narrator of "The Black Cat" suddenly spots a cat atop a barrel of alcohol he’s been staring at. The cat is large and looks... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...of this hatred but also from shame at the way he had treated his last cat. He also hates a particular coincidental feature of the cat: that it too only has... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...of the beast, but of the strange transformation of the patch of white on the cat’s breast into the shape of a gallows – it is merely a cat, yet it... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...to visit their old house on an errand, and when the narrator sees the new cat has followed him he swings an axe at it, but his wife stops his arm.... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...the end is satisfied that nothing is amiss. Then the narrator determines to find the cat so that he can at last rid himself of its presence, but he finds it... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...started rotting, and on top of the gory figure of the narrator’s wife, sits the cat. (full context)