Foreshadowing in The Black Cat

Foreshadowing Examples in The Black Cat:

The Black Cat 3

"buried the axe in her brain...."   (The Black Cat)

Poe’s verb choice—to “bury” the axe—is interesting on several accounts. The verb carries a connotation of the burial of a body, an imminent event in the story’s plot. The combination of “buried” and “brain” in the same phrase—with those repeated b and r sounds—has an appealing poetry to it. Finally, the phrase brings to mind the idiom of “burying the hatchet,” a 17th-century American saying that indicates a truce, or peace-making. Poe may have intended this final meaning in an ironic sense.

"it was now, I say, the image of a hideous—of a ghastly thing—of the GALLOWS!..."   (The Black Cat)

The image of the gallows—the scaffolding from which the condemned are hanged—serves a dual purpose here. On one level, it signifies the narrator’s murder of Pluto. On another, it foreshadows the narrator’s coming death. The cat and the narrator have a relationship defined by both metaphor and metonymy: that which the narrator does to the cat he does to himself. The cutting out of the cat’s eye represents the splitting of the narrator’s soul. The narrator’s hanging of Pluto directly leads to his own hanging.

"But tomorrow I die,..."   (The Black Cat)

Poe loosely foreshadows the outcome of the following events, and yet he is careful to preserve some mystery: we do not know how or why the narrator will die, only that he will. This framing also gives the story a confessional air. We understand from the start that this is a story laden with guilt.