'The Black Cat' Questions for Study and Discussion

Consider these questions to better understand Poe's work

Black Cat
Black Cat. Clipart.com

"The Black Cat" is one of Edgar Allan Poe's most memorable works of horror. First published in The Saturday Evening Post on Aug. 19, 1843, the story is a first-person depiction of an alcoholic's deterioration into madness.

The story focuses on a small cast of characters, many of them animals, and how they relate to the narrator throughout his retelling of recent events. Episodes of animal abuse and murder fill out this complex image of an unwell man grappling with his sanity before his imminent death.

In discussing this work with a group or reviewing it for academic study, here are a few questions to consider.

Questions for Study and Discussion

  • What is important about the title of "The Black Cat"?
  • What are the conflicts in "The Black Cat"? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) do you see in this story?
  • How does Edgar Allan Poe reveal character in "The Black Cat"?
  • What are some themes in the story?
  • How does Poe employ symbolism in "The Black Cat?" How do the symbols relate to the plot and characters?
  • Is the narrator consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
  • Do you find the narrator likable? Would you want to meet him?
  • Do you find the narrator reliable?
  • How would you describe the narrator's relationship with animals? How does it differ from his relationships with people?
  • Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?
  • What is the central¬†purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • Why is the story usually considered a work of horror literature? Would you read it at Halloween?
  • How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?
  • What are some of the controversial elements of the story? Were they necessary?
  • What is the role of women in the text?
  • Would you recommend this story to a friend? Why?
  • Suppose Poe did not end the story where he did: What do you think would have happened next?
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Lombardi, Esther. "'The Black Cat' Questions for Study and Discussion." ThoughtCo, Apr. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-black-cat-questions-study-discussion-738843. Lombardi, Esther. (2017, April 16). 'The Black Cat' Questions for Study and Discussion. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-black-cat-questions-study-discussion-738843 Lombardi, Esther. "'The Black Cat' Questions for Study and Discussion." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-black-cat-questions-study-discussion-738843 (accessed January 16, 2018).