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A Comparison of The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe and The Cat from Hell by Stephen King

Originally designed for teaching English as a foreign language, the series' combination of high interest level and low reading age makes it suitable for both English-speaking teenagers with limited reading skills and students of English as a second language. Many titles in the series also provide access to the preth century literature strands of the National Curriculum English Orders. In addition, titles fall into one of three sub-categories: "Contemporary", "Classics" or "Originals".

At the end of each book there is a section of enjoyable exercises focusing on vocabulary building, comprehension, discussion and writing. In this story, the narrator begins his confession in retrospect, at a time when he was considered to be a perfectly normal person, known for his docility and his humane considerations of animals and people. His parents indulged his fondness for animals, and he was allowed to have many different kinds of pets. Furthermore, he was very fortunate to marry a woman who was also fond of animals. Among the many animals that they possessed was a black cat which they named Pluto.

Since his wife often made allusions to the popular notion that all black cats are witches in disguise, the name Pluto which is the name of one of the gods of the underworld in charge of witches becomes significant in terms of the entire story. The other popular notion relevant to this story is the belief that a cat has nine lives; this superstition becomes a part of the story when the second black cat is believed to be a reincarnation of the dead Pluto with only one slight but horrible modification — the imprint of the gallows on its breast. Interestingly, Pluto was the narrator's favorite animal and for several years, there was a very special relationship between the animal and the narrator.

Then suddenly due partly to alcohol , the narrator underwent a significant change. Here, the narrator undergoes such a change. The effect of this change is indicated when he came home intoxicated, imagined that the beloved cat avoided him, then grasped the cat by its throat and with a pen knife, cut out one of its eyes.

This act of perversity is the beginning of several such acts which will characterize the "totality of effect" that Poe wanted to achieve in this story. The next morning, he writes, he was horrified by what he had done, and in time the cat recovered but now it deliberately avoided the narrator.

As the cat continued to avoid the narrator, the spirit of perverseness overcame him again — this time, with an unfathomable longing of the soul to "offer violence. He is ashamed of his perversity because he knows that the cat had loved him and had given him no reason to hang it. What he did was an act of pure perversity. That night, after the cruel deed was executed, his house burned to the ground. Being a rational and analytical person, the narrator refuses to see a connection between his perverse atrocity of killing the cat and the disaster that consumed his house.

Again, we have an example of the mad mind offering up a rational rejection of anything so superstitious that the burning of the house might be retribution for his killing the cat. However, on the following day, he visited the ruins of the house and saw a crowd of people gathered about. One wall, which had just been replastered and was still wet, was still standing. It was the wall just above where his bed had previously stood and engraved into the plaster was a perfect image of the figure of a gigantic cat, and there was a rope about the animal's neck.

Once again, the narrator's mad mind attempts to offer a rational explanation for this phenomena. He believes that someone found the cat's dead body, flung it into the burning house to awaken the narrator, and the burning of the house, the falling of the walls, and the ammonia from the carcass cats are filled with ammonia; Poe wrote essays on cats, their instincts, their logic, and their habits — all these factors contributed to the creation of the graven image. I got up, and went to see what it was.

The Black Cat - Fantasy Short Film - Ruskin Bond - Bhargav Saikia - Tom Alter, Shernaz Patel

I put my hand up, touched it, and found that it was a black cat — a very large one, as large as Pluto. He looked like Pluto too — in every way but one: Pluto did not have a white hair anywhere on his body; this cat had a large white shape on his front. He got up when I touched him, and pressed the side of his head against my hand several times.

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He liked me. This was the animal I was looking for! He continued to be very friendly and later, when I left, he followed me into the street. He came all the way home with me — we now had another house — and came. He immediately jumped up on to the most comfortable chair and went to sleep.

He stayed with us, of course. He loved both of us and very soon he became my wife's favourite animal. But, as the weeks passed, I began to dislike the animal more and more. I do not know why, but I hated the way he loved me. Soon, I began to hate him — but I was never unkind to him. Yes, I was very careful about that. I kept away from him because I remembered what I did to my poor Pluto. I also hated the animal because he only had one eye. I noticed this the morning after he came home with me. Of course, this only made my dear wife love him more!

But the more I hated the cat, the more he seemed to love me. He followed me everywhere, getting under my feet all the time. When I sat down, he always sat under my chair. Often he tried to jump up on my knees. I wanted to murder him when he did this, but I did not. I stopped myself because I remembered Pluto, but also because I was afraid of the animal.

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Several times, my wife took the cat and showed me the white shape on his chest. She said the shape was slowly changing. For a long time I did not believe her, but slowly, after many weeks, I began to see that she was right. The shape was changing. Its sides were becoming straighter and straighter. It was beginning to look more and more like an object. After a few more weeks, I saw what the shape was. It was impossible not to see! There, on his front, was the shape of an object I am almost too afraid to name.

During the day, the animal never left me. At night he woke me up nearly every hour. I remember waking from terrible dreams and feeling him sitting next to my face, his heavy body pressing down on my heart! I was now a very different man. There was not the smallest piece of good left in me. I now had only evil thoughts — the darkest and the most evil thoughts.

I hated everyone and everything, my dear wife too. One day she came down into the cellar with me to cut some wood we were now too poor to have a servant. Of course, the. My wife stopped my arm with her hand. This made me even more angry. This made me so angry, that I took the axe and tried to cut the animal in two. But as I brought the axe down, my wife stopped my arm with her hand. This made me even more angry, and I pulled her hand away from my wrist, lifted the tool again, brought it down hard and buried it in the top of her head.

I had to hide the body. I knew I could not take it out of the house. The neighbours noticed everything. I thought of cutting it into pieces and burning it. I thought of burying it in the floor of the cellar. I thought of throwing it into the river at the end of the garden. I thought of putting it into a wooden box and taking it out of the house that way. In the end, I decided to hide the body in one of the walls of the cellar.

It was quite an old building, near the river, so the walls of the cellar were quite wet and the plaster was soft. There was new plaster on one of the walls, and I knew that underneath it the wall was not very strong. I also knew that this wall was very thick.

I could hide the body in the middle of it. It was not difficult. I took off some plaster, took out a few stones and made a hole in the earth that filled the middle of the wall. I put my wife there, put back the stones, made some new plaster and put it on the wall. Then I cleaned the floor, and looked carefully round. Everything looked just as it did before. Nobody would ever know. Next, I went upstairs to kill the cat.


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The animal was bringing me bad luck. I had to kill it. I searched everywhere, but I could not find him. I was sure it was because of my wife's murder; he was too clever to come near me now I waited all evening, but I did not see the evil animal. He did not come back during the night either. And so, for the first time in a long time, I slept well. When I woke up the next morning, I was surprised to see that the cat still was not there. Two, three. I cannot tell you how happy I began to feel. I felt so much better without the cat. Yes, it was he who brought me all my unhappiness.

And now, without him, I began to feel like a free man again. It was wonderful — no more cat! Never again! Several people came and asked about my wife, but I answered their questions easily. Then, on the fourth day, the police came. I was not worried when they searched the house. They asked me to come with them as they searched. They looked every- where, several times. Then they went down into the cellar. I went down with them, of course. I was not a bit afraid. I walked calmly up and down, watching them search. They found nothing, of course, and soon they were ready to go.

I was so happy that I could not stop talking as they went up the stairs. I did not really know what I was saying. Yes, a very well-built old house. These walls — are you going, gentlemen? A voice came from inside the wall, in answer to my knock. It was a cry, like a child's. Quickly, it grew into a long scream of pain and horror.

I saw the policemen standing on the stairs with their mouths open. Suddenly, they all ran down in a great hurry and began breaking down the wall. It fell quickly, and there was my wife, standing inside. There she was, with dried blood all over her head, looking at them. And there was the cat, standing on her head, his red mouth wide open in a scream, and his one gold eye shining like fire. The clever animal! My wife was dead because of him, and now his evil voice was sending me to the gallows. And there was the cat, standing on her head. We saw the dark shape of the roof above the forest.

It was a sad and strangely beautiful house. The Oval Portrait. It was not far away, but travelling was difficult in that wild part of the moun- tains. We did not arrive until night was falling. It was a sad and strangely beautiful house, many hundreds of years old. Pedro, my servant, broke in through a small door at the back and carried me carefully inside.

I was so badly hurt that I would die if we stayed out all night. He helped me to lie down on the bed. There were a lot of very fine modern pictures in this room. I looked at them for a while in the dying light. They were everywhere on the walls, all round me. After dark, I could not sleep because of the pain. Also, I was so weak now that I was afraid that I was dying.

So I asked Pedro to light the lamp beside the bed. I began to look at the pictures on the walls, and as I did so I read a small book. I found this book on the bed next to me. It described all the pictures in the room, one by one, and told their stories. I looked and read for a long time, and the hours passed quickly. Midnight came and went. My eyes became more and more tired, and soon I found it hard to read the words on the page. So I reached out — this was painful and difficult — and moved the lamp closer.

Now, the lamp's light fell in a different part of the room, a part that was in deep shadow until then. I saw more pictures, and among them there was a portrait of a young woman. As soon as I saw it, I closed my eyes. Why did I suddenly close my eyes like that? Then I realized. I did it to give myself time. I needed time to think. Was I sure that I really saw what I thought I saw? Was I dreaming?

No, I was suddenly very awake. I waited until I was calm again; then I opened my eyes and looked a second time. No, there was no mistake. My eyes were seeing what they saw the first time, only seconds before. The picture, as I said, was a portrait. It was oval in shape, and showed the head and shoulders of a young woman.

It was the finest and the most beautiful painting that I have ever seen. And I know I never ever saw a woman as beautiful as her! But it was not her beauty that shook me so suddenly from my half-sleep. And it was not the beauty of the painter's work that excited me in such a strange way. I stayed for perhaps an hour, half-sitting, half-lying, never taking my eyes off the portrait.

Then at last, I understood. At last, I realized what the true secret of the picture was, and I fell back in the bed again. It was the way she was looking at me. Her eyes, that beautiful smile, that way she looked at me — she was so real! It was almost impossible to believe that she was just paint — that she was not alive! The first time I looked at the portrait I simply could not believe what my eyes were seeing.

The Black Cat and Other Stories

But now I felt a very different feeling growing inside me. The more I looked into those eyes, the more I looked at that beautiful smile, the more I was afraid! It was a strange, terrible fear that I could not understand. It was a fear mixed with horror. I moved the lamp back to where it was before.

The portrait was now hidden in darkness again. Quickly, I looked through the book until I found the story of the oval portrait. I read these words:. Yes, she was happy until that evil day when she saw and loved the painter of her portrait. They were married. But, sadly, he already had a wife: his work. His painting was more important to him than anything in the world. She loved everything in the world.

Now she loved all things but one: her husband's work. His painting was her only enemy; and she began to hate the paintings that kept her husband away from her. And so it was a terrible thing when he told her that he wanted to paint his young wife's portrait. Tor weeks, she sat in the tall, dark room while he worked. He was a silent man, always working, always lost in his wild, secret dreams. She sat still — always smiling, never moving — while he painted her hour after hour, day after day. He did not. He never noticed that she was not healthy any more, and not happy any more.

The change was happening in front of his eyes, but he did not see it. Tut she went on smiling. She never stopped smiling because she saw that her husband who was now very famous enjoyed his work so much. He worked day and night, painting the portrait of the woman he loved. And as he painted, the woman who loved him grew slowly weaker and sadder. They told the painter how wonderful it was, speaking softly as he worked. They said the portrait showed how much he loved his beautiful wife. He did not welcome visitors in the room any more. A terrible fire was burning inside him now He was wild, almost mad with his work.

His eyes almost never left the painting now, even to look at his wife's face. Her face was as white as snow The painter did not see that the colours he was painting were no longer there in her real face. He touched the last paint on to her lips; he put the last, thin line of colour on an eye; then he stood back and looked at the finished work. All colour left his face. With his eyes on the portrait, he cried out to the world: 'This woman is not made of paint! She is alive! She was dead.

I almost never left the house, and I left the library less and less. Egaeus is my name. My family — I will not name it — is one of the oldest in the land. We have lived here, inside the walls of this great house, for many hundreds of years. I sometimes walk through its silent rooms. Each one is richly decorated, by the hands of only the finest workmen. But my favourite has always been the library. It is here, among books, that I have always spent most of my time.

My mother died in the library; I was born here. Yes, the world heard my first cries here; and these walls, the books that stand along them are among the first things I can remember in my life. I was born here in this room, but my life did not begin here. I know I lived another life before the one I am living now. I can remember another time, like a dream without shape or body: a world of eyes, sweet sad sounds and silent shadows. I woke up from that long night, my eyes opened, and I saw the light of day again — here in this room full of thoughts and dreams.

As a child, I spent my days reading in this library, and my young days dreaming here. The years passed, I grew up without noticing it, and soon I found that I was no longer young. I was already in the middle of my life, and I was still living here in the house of my fathers. And so, slowly, the real world — life in the world outside these walls — began to seem like a dream to me.

The wild ideas, the dreams inside my head were my real world. They were my whole life. But we grew so differently. I was the weak one, so often sick, always lost in my dark and heavy thoughts. She was the strong, healthy one, always so full of life, always shining like a bright new sun. She ran over the hills under the great blue sky while I studied in the library. I lived inside the walls of my mind, fighting with the most difficult and painful ideas. She walked quickly and happily through life, never thinking of the shadows around her.

I watched our young years flying away on the silent wings of time. Berenice never thought of tomorrow She lived only for the day. Berenice — I call out her name — Berenice! And a thousand sweet voices answer me from the past. I can see her clearly now, as she was in her early days of beauty and light. I see her. Her bright young days ended when an illness — a terrible illness — came down on her like a sudden storm. I watched the dark cloud pass over her.

I saw it change her body and mind completely. The cloud came and went, leaving someone I did not know. Who was this sad person I saw now? Where was my Berenice, the Berenice I once knew? This first illness caused several other illnesses to follow.

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One of these was a very unusual type of epilepsy. Suddenly, her mind stopped working. She fell to the ground, red in the face, shaking all over, making strange sounds, her eyes not seeing any more. The epilepsy often ended with her going into a kind of very deep sleep. Sometimes, this sleep was so deep that it was difficult to tell if she was dead or not. Often she woke up from the sleep as. A serious illness in which, for a short time, the mind stops working, everything goes black, and the body jumps and shakes. She would just get up again as if nothing was wrong.

It was during this time that my illness began to get worse. I felt it growing stronger day by day. I knew I could do nothing to stop it.


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And soon, like Berenice, my illness changed my life completely. It was not my body that was sick; it was my mind. It was an illness of the mind. I can only describe it as a type of monomania. But I am afraid it may be impossible to describe how fully I could lose myself in the useless study of even the simplest or most ordinary object.