A reading of Poe’s short horror story
‘The Black Cat’ was first published in August 1843 in the Saturday Evening Post. It’s one of Poe’s shorter stories and one of his most disturbing, focusing on cruelty towards animals, murder, and guilt, and told by an unreliable narrator who’s rather difficult to like. You can read ‘The Black Cat’ here. Below we’ve offered some notes towards an analysis of this troubling but powerful tale.
First, a brief summary of the plot of ‘The Black Cat’. The narrator explains how from a young age he was noted for his tenderness and humanity, as well as his fondness for animals. When he married, he and his wife acquired a number of pets, including a black cat, named Pluto. But as the years wore on, the narrator became more irritable and prone to snap. One night, under the influence of alcohol, he sensed the black cat was avoiding him and so chased him and picked up the animal. The animal bit him slightly on the hand, and the narrator – possessed by a sudden rage – took a pen-knife from his pocket and gouged out one of the cat’s eyes. Although the cat seems to recover from this, the narrator finds himself growing more irritated, until eventually he takes the poor cat out into the garden and hangs it from a tree. Later that night, the narrator wakes to find his house on fire, and he, his wife, and his servant, barely escape alive. All of the narrator’s wealth is lost in the flames. Read the rest of this entry
A summary of a fine Blake poem
‘Spring’ is not one of William Blake’s most famous poems. The poem was first published in Blake’s 1789 collection Songs of Innocence. It’s a glorious celebration of the arrival of spring, exploring the harmony of man with the natural world and some of Blake’s more popular themes: childhood, innocence, and nature being three of the most prominent.
Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Day and night,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,—
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year. Read the rest of this entry
The interesting origins of a curious word
The most widely known and widely used meaning of the word ‘muggle’ is probably the one that J. K. Rowling invented for her Harry Potter series of books: namely, a person who does not possess magical skills. Normally written with a capital M, ‘Muggle’ is used, then, for those non-wizards in the world of Harry Potter. But the word’s origins can be traced back nearly eight centuries. Read the rest of this entry