Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most renowned authors in American literature. His works are known for their dark and often macabre themes. Two of his most famous stories are “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
While both stories share some similar themes, they also have several key differences. “The Black Cat” is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator who is unnamed and unreliable. The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” on the other hand, is unnamed but claims to be sane.
Additionally, “The Black Cat” is primarily focused on the act of violence itself, while “The Tell-Tale Heart” focuses more on the lead-up to the violence and the aftermath.
Finally, “The Black Cat” ends with the narrator being arrested and presumably executed, while “The Tell-Tale Heart” ends with the narrator being driven insane by guilt.
In spite of these differences, both stories are considered masterpieces of horror fiction and are among Poe’s most popular works.
Edgar Allan Poe is an expert in the dark genre of literature. “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are two of the most terrifying short story masterpieces by Poe. Both pieces are written in a gothic style and include elements of murder and insanity. Despite their many parallels, delving deeper into the real meanings reveals important distinctions.
“The Black Cat” is a story about a man who slowly goes insane and takes it out on his animals, eventually leading to the murder of his wife. The unnamed protagonist in “The Tell-Tale Heart” also goes mad, but in this story, he is driven by an irrational fear and hatred of an old man’s eye. In “The Black Cat,” the narrator’s downward spiral into madness is shown through his interactions with his animals; in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator’s mental state is evident in his preoccupation with the old man’s eye.
One major difference between the two stories is the motive for murder. In “The Black Cat,” the protagonist kills his wife because she prevents him from harming his cat. The cat is a symbol of the protagonist’s insanity, and by killing the cat, the protagonist is also killing a part of himself. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator kills the old man because he cannot stand to look at his eye any longer. The eye is a symbol of the old man’s soul, and by murdering him, the narrator believes he is freeing himself from the evil that resides within.
“The Black Cat” is also notable for its use of irony. The protagonist insists that he is not superstitious, yet he allows his superstitions to dictate his actions. He hangs his black cat in spite of himself and rationalizes it by saying that the cat deserved to die because it was evil. The irony is that the protagonist is the one who is truly evil. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” there is no use of irony. The narrator is fully aware of his actions and takes responsibility for them. He knows that he is mad, but he does not try to hide it.
While both stories are excellent examples of gothic literature, they have different lessons to teach. “The Black Cat” shows us that sometimes we cannot help but be our own worst enemy. “The Tell-Tale Heart” reveals that madness can make us do terrible things, but in the end, we will always be caught.
In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Doctor Moreau feels compelled by the sight of a sleeping cat to inflict scores of human guinea pigs on his patients. The settings and characters of “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” appear distinct, but they are actually comparable.
Both narratives are set in either a house or an apartment, with frightening and unsettling nighttime scenes on the surface. When looked at closely, though, the tales become apparent: both stories are narrated from behind bars by the primary character. For example, both tales begin with reports of events.
In “The Black Cat”, the narrator says, “For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence.”
And in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator’s first words are, “TRUE! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” From these two openings, it is clear that both narrators are not to be trusted. Furthermore, the events that occur in each story are eerily similar. In both tales, animals are abused and killed by the main character, who is driven by madness.
In “The Black Cat,” the protagonist exclaims, “I will write the most wild and homely narrative without expecting or requesting belief.” The line from “The Tell-Tale Heart” is, “Yes!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” In both tales, the main character believes himself to be sane and confident in his criminal activities.
In “The Black Cat”, the cat was used as a metaphor for the main character’s conscience. The black cat always seemed to be watching him and knew when he was about to do something bad. The cat would meow and try to stop him, but the main character would ignore it and go through with his crimes anyway.
In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the old man’s eye is a metaphor for the main character’s conscience. The eye is always watching him and knows when he is about to do something bad. The eye would glare at him and try to stop him, but the main character would ignore it and go through with his crimes anyway.
Both “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are stories about characters who commit crimes and then try to cover them up. In “The Black Cat”, the main character kills his wife and then hides her body in the wall. In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the main character kills an old man and then hides his body under the floorboards.
In both stories, the characters are caught because they cannot keep their crimes a secret. The main character in “The Black Cat” is caught because he confesses to the crime. The main character in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is caught because the old man’s heart is still beating when the police come to investigate.
The function of foreshadowing is used to build suspense and interest in the audience. Foreshadowing may be direct or indirect, organic or manufactured. The usage of pronouns and other linguistic features (such as adjectives) can all assist this technique.
For example, in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the protagonist states: “You should have seen how carefully I proceeded—with what caution — with what insight and dissimulation! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week preceding his murder.” Furthermore, in “The Black Cat,” the main character says: “But mad am I not—and very certainly do I not dream.”
These lines of dialogue show that both characters are in fact aware of their actions and know that what they are doing is wrong, yet they still cannot help themselves. This provides a key contrast between the two stories.
In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the main character’s motivation for murder is never fully clear, whereas in “The Black Cat”, the motives are more apparent. The man in “The Black Cat” says that he kills his wife’s cat because it reminds him too much of her, and that he hates it because it seems to be smirking at him. On the other hand, the old man in “The Tell-Tale Heart” does nothing to deserve being killed, making the act all the more senseless.