Explore the techniques used by pre-twentieth century authors to build fear and tension for the reader in three or four short stories. You must refer to the historical context.

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Explore the techniques used by pre-twentieth century authors to build fear and tension for the reader in three or four short stories. You must refer to the historical context.

“The Black Cat,” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Blind Man,” by Kate Chopin” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Usually, a black cat is an animal associated with witchcraft and black magic. And in Edgar Allan Poe’s nineteenth century short story, this is no different. They are viewed as mythical, demonic objects; objects of evil. The author’s cat is called Pluto. This name itself suggests that maybe it is a secretive animal, hidden and unknown, like the ninth planet it’s named after; nobody knows much about it. We soon learn that the cat is “entirely black, sagacious to an astonishing degree.” Much like the writer, this cat is portrayed as being wise and astute. Yet within what appears to be no time at all, the writer is fiercely describing the feline as being a “monster,” summoning hellish images into the mind of the reader. “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me” is a quotation which shows the writer’s abstract impulsiveness towards the cat. The writer abruptly grabs the “poor beat by the throat.”  This kind of behavior is not associated with pets. It seems like the writer and subconsciously personified the beast, as he grabs it by the throat, instead of kicking it away like someone would expect. Once strangling the cat, Edgar Allan Poe “deliberately cut out one of its eyes.” This is extremely irrational behavior and happens so quickly. This conjures a lot of fear in the reader, and this man has suddenly taken part in a brutal, cold-blooded slaughter. The language used is very provocative and emotive throughout the story, and this is couple by a detached tone. The immediate shift from being ‘normal’ to suddenly growing mad and irrational is complex and acute.

At the beginning of the next paragraph, he describes himself to be having a “feeble and equivocal feeling,” showing that he perhaps doesn’t realise what he has just done. This arouses suspicion in the reader, as we do not know what to think. Edgar Allan Poe continually tries to befriend the reader, yet he is horrific. We start to feel sympathetic towards him, and pathos is created. The man continued to present the reader with explanations and excuses for his “evil deed.” The feeling of witchcraft is echoed when he “was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire.” His house is alight, and after the blaze, people gather around. In the only wall that is left standing, an apparition of a gigantic cat. He then remembers, “that the cat had been hung in a garden adjacent to the house.” This brings the reader to try and piece together the pieces of this puzzle, but we cannot, for it is too complex. This scene creates a lot of tension in the reader. Once again, we see that this cat, from beyond the grave has managed to produce itself. It summons terror in the reader and insecurity fills Poe.

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One night, as the write stood, “absolutely stupefied,” he sees a black object, and it turns out to be a large black cat, almost identical to the former animal, with the exception of a large white patch. Within time, the writer starts to feel hatred towards the cat, the only thing preventing him form physically hurting it being “the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty.” Again, impulsively, the man commits a terrible act of gruesome, murderous hatred. He kills his wife, horrifically.

After this, the cat seems to have vanished. Even though the man manages to conceal ...

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