"The Black Cat"

In "The Black Cat", Edgar Allan Poe gives us a murderer who at first seems calm and collected but whose guilt gnaws away at him until he simply can't bear it any longer.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. solicit
    request urgently or persistently
    For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.
  2. baroque
    elaborate ornamentation in decorative art and architecture
    To me, they have presented little but horror -- to many they will seem less terrible than baroques.
    *characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, complexity, or flamboyance
  3. phantasm
    something existing in perception only
    Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the commonplace -- some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with
    awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.
  4. sagacious
    acutely insightful and wise
    To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature of the intensity of the gratification thus derivable.
  5. paltry
    contemptibly small in amount
    There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.
  6. fidelity
    the quality of being faithful
    There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.
  7. allusion
    passing reference or indirect mention
    In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise.
  8. intemperate
    excessive in behavior
    I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife.
    * unkind, abusive language
  9. fancy
    imagine; conceive of; see in one's mind
    One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence.
  10. malevolence
    wishing evil to others
    My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame.
  11. atrocity
    an act of shocking cruelty
    I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.
  12. equivocal
    open to question
    When reason returned with the morning -- when I had slept off the fumes of the night's debauch -- I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched.
  13. irrevocable
    incapable of being retracted
    And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS.
  14. vile
    morally reprehensible
    Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not?
  15. perpetual
    continuing forever or indefinitely
    Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such?
  16. unfathomable
    impossible to come to understand
    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.
  17. consummate
    perfect and complete in every respect
    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.
  18. conflagration
    a very intense and uncontrolled fire
    It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration.
  19. pestilence
    any epidemic disease with a high death rate
    I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill-use it; but gradually -- very gradually -- I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.
  20. aversion
    a feeling of intense dislike
    With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase.
  21. chimera
    a grotesque product of the imagination
    I am almost ashamed to own -- yes, even in this felon's cell, I am almost ashamed to own -- that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimeras it would be possible to conceive.
  22. woe
    misery resulting from affliction
    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!
  23. incumbent
    necessary as a duty or responsibility; morally binding
    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!
  24. succumb
    consent reluctantly
    Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed.
  25. expedient
    a means to an end
    Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these.
  26. felicity
    pleasing and appropriate manner or style
    I looked upon my future felicity as secured.
  27. allay
    lessen the intensity of or calm
    'Gentlemen,' I said at last, as the party ascended the steps, 'I delight to have allayed your suspicions.
  28. bravado
    a swaggering show of courage
    These walls -- are you going, gentlemen? -- these walls are solidly put together'; and here, through the mere frenzy of bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that very portion of the brickwork behind which stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom.
  29. exult
    feel extreme happiness or elation
    No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb! -- by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the damned in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation.
  30. consign
    commit forever
    Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman.