Friday, February 13, 2009

Poe Fridays

This week for Poe Friday, we read the short story The Black Cat. I was unfamiliar with this story, which made the reading that much more fun.

The basic premise is this: A nice, normal man marries a nice, normal lady, and they populate their house with a whole bunch of pets - the man's favorite is their black cat. For reasons that only make sense in Poe's world, the man suddenly goes crazy, and kills the cat. In a strange twist of fate, another cat shows up on his doorstep, identical to the first cat, except for a white patch on his chest. As the man grows increasingly more crazy, the white patch looks increasingly more like a gallows. Eventually, the man tries to kill this cat, also. When his wife intervenes, he kills her instead, and bricks her body into the basement wall. When the police come to investigate (as the always do), he thinks he is in the clear, until the cat starts to yowl - the cat he unknowingly bricked into the wall with his wife's body!!!!!

It is interesting to note the themes that seem to be common to Poe's work - the unreliable narrator, alcoholism as a "disease" that causes madness, murders with little to no defined purpose. This story also brought to mind The Cask of Amontillado, with the victim being concealed behind the brick wall. This is an incredibly dark story - as usual, one wonders what was happening in Poe's life to bring about this much evil. It's hard to tell exactly when his stories were written, because they were published multiple times, but certainly something bad must have been going on. I found this story to be just as engrossing as his other work, and would encourage others to read it.

Also, I found a review of a movie from the Masters of Horror series based on The Black Cat - on to my Netflix queue it goes!

Next week, we get to read the short story Hop-Frog. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading. Head over and join us!


Jenners said...

OOOOOOH! I remember this one! Very creepy and disturbing -- as almost all Poe is! I've really liked reading these posts!

TexasRed said...

This is one of the most memorable Poe stories to me, along with The Tell-Tale Heart, because of the pacing and the description of the murderer's mental state.

Kristen M. said...

I think that the timing of reading this story might have been bad for me ... right after the Tell-Tale Heart. It was quite similar! I could really picture the whole scene, though. I'm not sure if I've seen the Black Cat movie unless it's the Bela Lugosi one. I love classic horror films!

Fragrant Liar said...

Gotta love a story with a great twist at the end. I'd read it now, but since you told me all about it, I don't have to. :) You're kind of like Cliff's.