What are the weaknesses in the essay about Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat"?

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Based on this prompt, it looks like you have been asked to find "an" essay online which a student has written about Poe's "The Black Cat" and then do some work in editing and revision, thus hopefully improving your knowledge of the story and sharpening your editing and revision skills.

The link I'm providing is an essay which a student wrote and submitted online. The first thing I always tell students to consider is the thesis. If the thesis is awkward or confusing, the entire paper can head off track. Here is the thesis of this paper:

This paper endeavors to show how the writer has used various images and plot development to create a horrifying and dreadful atmosphere that drawing the reader into the narrators demented and haunted mind.

The core idea is there, but the phrasing is long with lots of clauses. There are also some grammatical errors (narrator's should be possessive and drawing is the wrong tense). I also tell students to avoid referring to "the paper" itself and to instead just say what needs to be said. Here's a revision of that thesis:

Poe uses first person point of view, vivid imagery, and unexpected plot developments to create a horrifying mood.

This thesis also more closely aligns to the majority of the content that follows, so I would recommend restructuring the information into paragraphs that follow these three main ideas. Create one paragraph to explain how the point of view increases the horrific mood, another explaining how the imagery is horrifying, and a third that tackles unexpected plot developments.

This revision would certainly make the ideas in the paper more organized and understandable. And then I'd tackle some of the grammatical issues, such as:

  • Numerous run-on sentences—See the last sentence in paragraph 2 for an example.
  • Lots of sentences that are far too long and awkwardly constructed—See the sentence that begins with "Later" in the introduction.
  • Incorrect use of the semicolon, which should be used to combine two complete sentences. This has been incorrectly done in both the introduction and in the second paragraph.

The paper has some good ideas, but a thorough revision that better organized the ideas and eliminated the many run-on sentences could produce a paper that is more academically sound.

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I am not sure if this prompt is asking for you to revise and edit an essay that you wrote or an essay that a classmate wrote. There is also the possibility that the prompt is asking you to find an online essay and revise and edit that essay. I am going to base this response on the last option being correct.

I have provided a link to an online essay about "The Black Cat," presumably written by a student. The essay could definitely benefit from a revision. Structurally, the essay is broken into different sections, and those sections are labelled with headings. This is generally not an acceptable format. The entire essay should be broken into paragraphs that have identifiable content from individual topic sentences. Another problem is the inclusion of the first person. The essay shouldn't contain sentences that say "I think" or similar. Your personal opinion can be stated, but the first person can't be used. Just state something like it is fact. For example, change "I think what Poe was trying to express . . ." to "Poe is trying to express . . . "

The linked essay is full of errors that need to be revised. It has subject and verb agreement issues as well as the incorrect word being used. The following is the first line from paragraph three:

A key aspect in the beginning of the opening with the main character giving inform of their life to date.

The main character is giving "information" not "inform." Additionally, the main character is a single person, so he shouldn't be referred to as "their." The end of the sentence should read " . . . character giving information of his life to date."

My main recommendation when doing this kind of revision work is to read the entire paper aloud to yourself. This will catch quite a few mistakes regarding word choice and/or the accidental omission of words.

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The first reference listed below is a link to an English class blog that features a student-composed essay about Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Black Cat." In the essay, you will immediately notice some errors that need to be corrected.

First, short story titles must have double quotation marks around them. Each of the three words in this story's title must be capitalized. In this essay, the student calls the story a "book," a mistake that weakens the author's credibility from the start. The essay also contains some run-on sentences and sentence fragments. You should revise those. For example, the third sentence is a run-on.

The fragment that begins with "A cat who" has been punctuated as a sentence. You'll need to join that to the previous sentence with a comma. In addition, change the who to which; use who for people and which for things and animals.

You should proceed through the essay, correcting errors in usage and punctuation as you go. Some of the sentences are rather garbled; for example, the third sentence of the second-to-last paragraph (beginning with "It has been established") is rather indecipherable. You'll need to make a guess at what the author means and rewrite the sentence accordingly.

If your assignment requires you to correct problems with the content of the essay and not just grammar and usage, this essay deserves a significant rewrite. The author has made a critical mistake in attributing moral "sins" to Poe because Poe has written a story about violence and murder. Many authors write about such dark subjects because these types of stories interest readers and make money. It doesn't mean the authors themselves are evil.

This student-written essay does not display excellent critical thinking or writing. It will give you plenty of mistakes to correct.

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