What suspenseful moments does Edgar Allan Poe create in his short story, "The Black Cat"?

Asked on by magnotta

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This story in a sense is very similar to another of Poe's famous tales, "The Tell-Tale Heart", because both feature a murder who has concealed their victim, and both include a scene where policemen come into the very room where the body is concealed, and some madness or twist of fate causes the murderer to reveal their crime to those present.

Certainly then if you are focussing on suspense, the end of the story is to me the most suspenseful. Note how, "in a frenzy of bravado", the narrator raps heavily with his cane on the portion of the wall behind which the corpse of his wife lay buried. His hubris however is met with terror. Note how he describes what occurred next:

But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner has the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb!

This point therefore is the most suspenseful because we are left to imagine what on earth is making that noise - is it the wife who perhaps has not died, or is undead? Or what figure could it be? It is only when the policemen break down the wall that the narrator reveals that the black cat, which seems to epitomise the curse on his life, has been buried with the corpse and it is the cat that gave him away.

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