What are some themes in the story "The Black Cat"? 

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bcsaund eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Black Cat" deals with themes seen in many of his writings: revenge and guilt. The theme of revenge can definitely be seen represented by the cat itself. The narrator's violent actions towards the cat (and later this wife) are paid back by the black cat. According to the narrator, the cat is the reason the narrator gets caught by the police and is being executed. The cat's moaning, shriek from inside the wall is what triggers the narrator's reaction thus allowing the police to find the narrator's wife.

The theme of guilt is also addressed, much like in "The Tell-Tale Heart." Poe leads the reader to believe that there really is no 2nd cat. Once the narrator killed Pluto, the 2nd cat in the story is strictly a manifestation of his guilt. He has literally gotten away with the crime of murdering his wife, but his guilty conscience draws the police to the body walled up in the basement. He alone hears the shrieks of the cat (his guilt).