The Romance of the Forest: A Gothic Novel (Annotated) (Readers Edition)

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Seven Classic Gothic Novels. Cynthia Wakeham's Money. The Golden Slipper. Once students have read the tale, use the following questions to spark discussion or as the basis for an exam or written assignment:. Share Flipboard Email. Esther Lombardi is a veteran journalist who has written about literature, education, and technology.

Symbols are a key component of Poe's dark tale, particularly the following ones. Like the bad omen of legend, Pluto, the black cat, leads his owner the narrator down the path toward insanity and loss of reason. Alcohol: While the cat is the outward personification of everything that the narrator hates, his drinking problem alcoholism may—or may not—be a reason for the loss of his grip on reality. House and home: Home sweet home is supposed to be a place of safety and security, but it becomes a dark and tragic place of madness and murder in this story. The narrator kills his favorite pet the black cat , and then he kills his own wife.

Cell: The narrator is in a prison when the story begins, but his mind had become entangled in a mass of confusion and unreality long before he was discovered for his murderous crimes against animals and humans. The wife: His wife could have been a grounding force in his life. The narrator describes her as having "that humanity of feeling. Instead, she becomes another horrible example of innocence lost.

She never leaves him she's loyal, faithful, and kind , and she eventually dies, not of natural causes but as the result of a murderous, alcohol-induced rage. But a black cat helps bring him to justice. The question is what causes the narrator to become a murderer. Relationships: Marriage, which is supposed to be the central relationship of a happy home, is clearly nothing of the sort in this sordid tale.


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Loyalty: A pet is often seen as a loyal and faithful partner in life. The hallucinations of the narrator related to his black cat throw him into the most extreme passionate and murderous rages. The idea of loyalty is turned upside-down in the story. The narrator's favorite pet becomes his biggest enemy. On reality vs. On superstition:. On transformation and descent into insanity:. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fiber of my frame. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself—to offer violence to its own nature—to do wrong for the wrong's sake only—that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute.

Evil thoughts became my sole intimates—the darkest and most evil of thoughts. What is important about the title of "The Black Cat"? What are the conflicts in "The Black Cat"? What types of conflict physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional do you see in this story? What are some themes in the story? How does Poe employ symbolism in "The Black Cat"? Is the narrator consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? Do you find the narrator likable? Would you want to meet him? Do you find the narrator reliable? How would you describe the narrator's relationship with animals?

How does it differ from his relationships with people? Does the story end the way you expected? Is the purpose important or meaningful? Why is the story usually considered a work of horror literature? Would you read it on Halloween?