Plot and structure:
Narrator’s childhood was closely connected with pets. He loved them and later he shared his love to animals with his wife. They had many kinds of pets including a black cat called Pluto. Pluto adored narrator and would follow him anywhere.
Unfortunately, the temper of the narrator went through the changes whose consequences were marked on his pets and wife as well. He became moody, regardless of the feeling of the others. In other words, he became alcoholic. Even Pluto, his favourite pet, started to experience his ill temper.
One night he came home drunk. Pluto was afraid of him and bit his hand. That made man furious. He punished the poor animal by cutting one of its eyes from the socket. At first he regretted what he had done but such a felling didn’t last for long.
One morning he took the poor thing and hung it to the limb of a tree. He hung it with tears in his eyes and bitterness in his heart but hung it because he knew that it was a deadly sin.
That very night his house caught on fire. He had to escape with his wife and servant and fire destroyed the whole house. Next morning he returned to the ruins of the house and found only one wall standing. His attention was caught by strange picture that the fire had created on the wall. It was a huge cat with the rope around its neck. He somehow explained the appearance of the picture to himself and even regretted the lost of the pet. A few months after the incident he founded very similar cat at the inn (the black cat with one eye and large splotch of the white hair upon its breast). He took it home to compensate Pluto but unfortunately for the cat which loved its master a lot, he soon got annoyed by its presence. On the other hand, his wife adored the cat from the very first moment.
As the time went on, the white splotch began to resemble (take shape of) the gallows.
One day he went to the cellar of his new house accompanied by the cat and his wife. He nearly fell down because of the cat. In a fury, man tried to kill the cat but was stopped by his wife who wanted to protect the poor thing. Consequently, he attacked his own wife and buried the axe in her brain. To hide her body he removed some bricks in the wall. It used to be a chimney there. He walled the corpse up. No eye could have detected anything suspicious. After that he started looking for the cat but could not find it anywhere. It looked like the creature was alarmed at the violence of his master’s previous anger so much that it left the house forever.
The days pasted and the cat didn’t appear. People questioned him and police came to search the house but found nothing. He accompanied them into the cellar where he had hidden his wife. He was completely confident and knocked on the wall saying: “these walls are solidly put together". In that moment he was answered by the cry of the cat that he had wallen up with his wife. The policemen removed the bricks and found the standing corpse with the cat sitting on its head. The monster consigned him to the hangman.
Where: Whole story is being told in the prison but takes place in narrator’s home (in two houses/ in the cellar, garden) +at the tavern where he used to drink. We don’t exactly know where it is as the author doesn’t mention any town, city, state…
When: during the day and usually during the night, during several months.
Names aren’t provided/exception of Pluto/=> anonymous characters.
Narrator (round character, archetype, dynamic), develops throughout the story from young kind man to a bit older, drunken man.
his wife (flat, static, minor character, type-represents her social class/women/and historical background/past/ , classic gothic woman- long suffering wife eventually destroyed by the madness of her own husband),
black cat called Pluto- its relationship to the narrator is influenced by drunkenness of its master. At first it loves him, later hates him. It’s killed by its master in the garden.
another black cat- with only one eye, white splotch on the chest, found in the tavern , follows narrator everywhere, revenges previous cat and wife of the narrator.
Cats are round, archetypes/timeless/, dynamic characters/from delightful pet to punisher/.
Servant, waiter - minor characters
a party of the police (flat character/embodiment of one prevailing quality/, static),.
Point of view:
Narrator is the main character- anonymous, unreliable, crucial narrator, directly involved in the story- first person narrator. Author enables the reader to look into narrator’s mind.
Retrospective. Style is complex. Usage of supernatural elements- references to God, apparition etc. He used common language, easy to understand, not too long sentences, no complicated word order.
Synonyms to cat: monster, beast, brute, playmate, apparition, …
horrific, dark, mysterious, morbid, dramatic caused by man’s drunkenness which contrasts with the beginning of the story when the atmosphere is very peaceful. Tone is very intimate as there are many detailed descriptions.
Perverseness, alcoholism, subordination of women in the past.
All the bad things, that we do, come back once and punish us.
Symbolism, allusions, myth:
The black cat- black magic, misfortune, witch, bad luck, hell, evil, revenge, punishment
Gallows- the death is coming.
Cellar- dark place, fear. hell.
Screaming of a cat- auditory image.
Cat on the wall in the burnt house- visual image.
Pluto- Roman God of the Underworld.
Personification of the second cat- it revenges wife and Pluto.
a Gothic tale- dominant themes of death and decay, dark, terrific imagery.
My own interpretation:
The narrator explains his current position – “But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul.”
His purpose is to inform about “a series of mere household events”.
The narrator’s perverse actions are brought on by his alcoholism.
A murderer carefully conceals –zatajiť- his crime and believes himself unassailable- napadnutý- , but eventually breaks down and reveals himself, impelled- priviesť- by a nagging- otravný, dobiedzavý- reminder of his guilt.
Each situation in which something horrible is going to happen occurs at dark night or at dark place which evokes horrific atmosphere.