Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Black Cat

Updated: 1/28/2020
Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Black Cat
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Black Cat Lesson Plans

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” delivers all of the spooky elements that make a terrifying and haunting tale. This particular dark short story combines fear and guilt with brutality and violence, ultimately leading to the murder of the narrator’s wife. However, it also explores the themes of depths of the flaws in the human spirit, including battling with alcoholism, the dangers of domestic violence, and the ultimate judgment that follows the most heinous of sins.


The Black Cat

Storyboard Description

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe Themes, Symbols, and Motifs storyboard

Storyboard Text

  • THEMES AND SYMBOLS
  • THE APPARITION
  • THE BLACK AND WHITE CAT
  • THE CELLAR
  • The apparition of Pluto hanging from a noose that is burned into the wall of the house frightens the narrator. While he knows that there must be a logical explanation for it, he also realizes that there is reason to be fearful. Since he killed the cat, he loses everything in a fire. Now the image of his terrible deed is imprinted on the wall of his home.
  • The black and white cat seems like a chance to make up for what he did to Pluto. But the narrator is riddled with guilt. He sees himself as undeserving of the cat’s affection and views it as a threat. The white patch on the cat’s chest begins to resemble a gallows. The cat brings justice and judgment by helping the police.
  • The cellar allows the narrator to quickly wall up his wife’s body without worrying about her being discovered. The narrator is almost gleeful as he walks around with the police, knowing they’ll never find her. The cellar is a place of tranquility compared to what he’s been battling in his own mind for many years.