The Black Cat Quotation Questions
1). Using the following quotation from Poe’s “The Black Cat” as your basis, write a 750-word essay that analyzes the narrator’s hierarchical view of all creatures, beginning with God down to humans, and finally to animals:“And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere humanity. And a brute beast — whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed — a brute beast to work out for me — for me, a man, fashioned in the image of the High God — so much of insufferable woe! Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of rest any more! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight — an incarnate nightmare that I had no power to shake off — incumbent eternally upon my heart!” (245).
2) Using the following quotation from Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” as your basis, write a 750-word essay that explores what role failing to see “the big picture” plays in the text:
“He [Vidocq, the legendary French detective] impaired his vision by holding the object too close. He might see, perhaps, one or two points of unusual clearness, but in doing so he, necessarily, lost sight of the matter as a whole” (171).
3) Using the following quotation from Michael Warner’s The Trouble With Normal, write a 750-word essay that explores whether or not shame functions as a form of social control in Coetzee’s Disgrace:
“Sooner of later, happily or unhappily, almost everyone fails to control his or her sex life. Perhaps as compensation, almost everyone sooner or later also succumbs to the temptation to control someone else’s sex life. Most people cannot quite rid themselves of the sense that controlling the sex of others, far from being unethical, is where morality begins” (1).
(4) Using the following quotation from Coetzee’s Disgrace, write a 750-word essay that addresses whether or not David’s attitudes towards animals have transformed by the end of the novel:
“What the dog will not be able to work out (not in a month of Sundays! he thinks) is how one can enter what seems to be an ordinary room and never come out again. Something happens in this room, something unmentionable: here the soul is yanked out of the body; briefly it hangs about in the air, twisting and contorting; then it is sucked away and is gone. It will be beyond him, this room that is not a room but a hole where one leaks out of existence” (219).
(5) Using the following quotation from Herzog’s Grizzly Man as your basis, write a 750-word essay that assesses Treadwell’s success in becoming animal:
“I have to mutually mutate into a wild animal to have the life I want.”6) Using the following quotation from Grizzly Man as your basis, write a 750-word essay that discusses whether or not you agree with Herzog that Timothy’s films teach us more about human than animal nature:
“What remains is his footage. And while we watch the animals in their joys of being, in their grace and ferociousness, a thought becomes more and more clear. That it is not so much a look at wild nature, as it is an insight into ourselves, our nature. And that, for me, beyond his mission, gives meaning to his life and to his death.”