Compare the two nineteenth century horror stories, 'The Black Cat' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe, showing how Poe uses a range of techniques to make his stories dramatic and effective.
'The Black Cat' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart' are two of the earliest horror stories ever written; they were written in the 1840's by the American author Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1809. He tragically died in 1849 following a life of alcohol and drugs.
'The Black Cat' tells us about a man who is in a condemned cell. He is on death row and reflecting on his life and the reason behind the situation he is in. He tells the reader about his love for animals and how he married early in life. His wife allowed him to buy a black cat who never left his master's side. However, the narrator tells how he became an alcoholic and started to mistreat his wife and pets. On returning home one night he seized the cat and in fright the cat had bitten him. This made him angry and therefore he cut out one of the cat's eyes. A few days later he took the cat, slipped a noose around its neck and hung it from a limb of a tree. That night the house burnt down and engraved on the wall was the figure of a cat.
Later on in the story the narrator tells us of how he found a cat that closely resembled the one he had killed. The cat would never leave his side which started to make him hate the creature. He was walking down the steps of the cellar one day with his wife when the cat followed and sent him headlong down the steps. In fury he picked up an axe and aimed a blow at the cat. His wife tried to stop him so he buried the axe into her brain. He buried the body in the wall of the cellar. The police found the body as the man become cocky and tapped on the wall where he had buried his wife, there was a wailing sound and the police uncovered the body with the cat on the corpses head.
'The Tell-Tale Heart' tells us about a man who has been accused of being mad. He looked after an old man who had a 'vulture eye'. His eye was a pale blue and had a film over it. Whenever the eye fell upon the narrator, it made his blood run cold. Therefore he decided to kill the old man. In the week before he killed him the narrator tells us about how he crept into the old man's bedroom every night at midnight, trying to find the right moment to kill him. On the eighth night the old man became aware that someone was in his room. The narrator says how he could hear the man's heart beating in his chest and was frightened that the neighbours would hear it. He ran into the room; seized the man out of his bed and pulled the bed on top of him. He then took the planks from the flooring of the bedroom and placed the body there. Once he had replaced the floorboards the police arrived saying that a neighbour had heard a shriek and they wished to search the property. He led them towards the old man's bedroom and placed some chairs out for them on the exact spot of the body. He began to make typical chat with the officers but could hear the heart of the old man beating louder and louder until it drew the narrator mad and he confessed to the murder.