Rather than break down with remorse, the man hastily hides his wife's body by walling it up with bricks behind a false facade in the cellar. The cat that's been tormenting him seems to have disappeared. Relieved, he begins to think he's gotten away with his crime and all will finally be well—until the police eventually show up to search the house.
They find nothing but as they're headed up the cellar stairs preparing to leave, the narrator stops them, and with false bravado, he boasts how well the house is built, tapping on the wall that's hiding the body of his dead wife. From within comes a sound of unmistakable anguish. Upon hearing the cries, the authorities demolish the false wall, only to find the wife's corpse, and on top of it, the missing cat.
Love and hate are two key themes in the story. The narrator at first loves his pets and his wife, but as madness takes hold of him, he comes to loathe or dismiss everything that should be of the utmost importance to him. Other major themes include:. Poe's use of language enhance the story's chilling impact. Key quotes from Poe's work echo its themes. Once students have read "The Black Cat," teachers can use the following questions to spark discussion or as the basis for an exam or written assignment:.
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Updated August 10, Symbols are a key component of Poe's dark tale, particularly the following ones. Like the bad omen of legend, the narrator believes Pluto and his successor have led him down the path toward insanity and immorality. Alcohol: While the narrator begins to view the black cat as an outward manifestation of everything the narrator views as evil and unholy, blaming the animal for all his woes, it is his addiction to drinking, more than anything else, that seems to be the true reason for the narrator's mental decline.
House and home: " Home sweet home" is supposed to be a place of safety and security, however, in this story, it becomes a dark and tragic place of madness and murder. The narrator kills his favorite pet, tries to kill its replacement, and goes on to kill his own wife. Prison: When the story opens, the narrator is physically in prison, however, his mind was already imprisoned by the shackles of madness, paranoia, and alcohol-induced delusions long before he was apprehended for his crimes. The wife: The wife could have been a grounding force in the narrator's life.
He describes her as having "that humanity of feeling. Loyal, faithful, and kind, she never leaves her husband no matter how low he sinks into the depths of depravity.
Instead, it is he who is in a sense unfaithful to his marriage vows. His mistress, however, is not another woman, but rather his obsession with drinking and the inner demons his drinking unleashes as symbolically personified by the black cat. He forsakes the woman he loves—and eventually kills her because he can't break the hold of his destructive obsession. The question is what causes the narrator to become a killer. Is the black cat merely a cat, or something embued with a greater power to bring about justice or exact revenge?
Pearson product-moment correlations can be found in Table 1. BSR was strongly negatively correlated with each cognitive measure except for numeracy which was nonetheless significant.
From Poverty to Power by James Allen
Furthermore, both ontological confusions and religious belief were positively correlated with bullshit receptivity. In Study 1, at least some participants appeared to find meaning in a series of statements that contained a random collection of vague buzzwords organized in a sentence with syntactic structure.
This tendency was significantly related to cognitive variables of conceptual interest in expected ways. In Study 2 we set out to replicate this pattern of results using real-world examples of bullshit. We also expanded our measures of analytic cognitive style by including self-report measures of analytic and intuitive thinking disposition.
Finally, we expanded our cognitive ability measures by increasing the number of items on the numeracy test and including a common measure of fluid intelligence. Only American residents were permitted to sign up for the study. All participants reported speaking fluent English. Given the novelty of the phenomenon, we chose participants as an arbitrary target sample size, as we determined this would provide adequate power and stability of the correlations.
These data were not analyzed until the full sample was completed. Eleven participants were removed because they responded affirmatively when asked if they responded randomly at any time during the study.
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In addition, 23 participants failed at least one of three attention check questions. However, as in Study 1, the results were similar when these participants were excluded and we therefore retained the full sample. These items can be found in Table S2. We excluded hash tags and expanded any shortened words and abbreviations, but the tweets were not otherwise altered. Participants were given the same instructions as Study 1 and, therefore, we did not indicate the author of the statements. Participants completed one cognitive task and one self-report questionnaire intended to assess individual differences in analytic cognitive style.
They were asked to respond based on a 5 point scale from 1-Definitely not true of myself to 5-Definitely true of myself. However, given the low reliability for the 3-item numeracy test in Study 1, we used an additional 6 items Lipkus et al. Participants also completed wealth distribution and political ideology measures. These measures were included as part of separate investigations and will not be analyzed or discussed further. In contrast to Study 1, participants evaluated the meaningless statements before completing the cognitive tasks. Moreover, the Chopra-Twitter items followed directly after the meaningless statements.
The cognitive tasks were then completed in the following order: heuristics and biases battery, Wordsum, numeracy, and APM. Participants then completed the ontological confusions scale, followed by the religious and paranormal belief scales in that order. Of the participants, 85 Below we report key analyses with the full and restricted i. A summary of descriptive statistics for each item is reported in Table S2. Moreover, the pattern of correlations for the scales was identical see supplementary materials, Table S3. The BSR scale significantly correlated with each variable apart from Need for Cognition Table 2, bottom diagonal , which curiously was only modestly correlated with heuristics and biases performance.
Specifically, BSR was negatively correlated with performance on the heuristics and biases battery and positively correlated with Faith in Intuition.
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The cognitive ability measures, including numeracy, were also negatively correlated with BSR. Finally, BSR was positively correlated with ontological confusions, and both religious and paranormal belief. The pattern of results was very similar when the correlations are restricted only to participants who did not report having any knowledge of Deepak Chopra Table 2, top diagonal.
In Studies 1 and 2, we established a statistically reliable measure of bullshit receptivity that correlated with a variety of conceptually related variables. It remains unclear, however, whether these associations are driven by a bias toward accepting pseudo-profound bullshit as meaningful or a failure to detect the need for skepticism or both when skepticism is warranted i. It may be that increased profundity ratings are associated with lower reflective thinking for example , regardless of the presented content. The goal of Study 3 was to test the possibility that some people may be particularly insensitive to pseudo-profound bullshit, presumably because they are less capable of detecting conflict during reasoning.
For this, we created a scale using ten motivational quotations that are conventionally considered to be profound e. The difference between profundity ratings between legitimately meaningful quotations and pseudo-profound bullshit will serve as our measures of bullshit sensitivity. Secondarily, we also included mundane statements that contained clear meaning but that would not be considered conventionally profound e. If the association between analytic thinking and profundity ratings for pseudo-profound bullshit is due to bullshit detection in particular, analytic thinking should not be associated with profundity ratings for mundane statements.
Given the strength and accumulating cost of the previous findings, participants was deemed a sufficient sample. Fourteen participants failed an attention check question but were retained, as in Studies 1 and 2. We created four item scales. We created a scale with 10 statements that convey meaning, but that are mundane e. Finally, ten motivational quotations were found through an internet search and used to form a second scale e. The four types of statements were intermixed in a unique random order for each participant.
The statements were presented at the beginning of the study. Participants then completed the heuristics and biases battery. Of the participants, 47 Nonetheless, we report our correlational analyses with the full and restricted sample.
The Fireside Poets
However, the distribution of profoundness ratings for each of the mundane statements was highly skewed see Table S4. Further inspection revealed that the vast majority of ratings Three standard deviations above the mean for the mundane statement scale was not larger than 5, indicating that there were outliers. There were no outliers for the other scales. A recursive outlier analysis revealed 22 participants who had profoundness ratings for mundane statements that were statistical outliers. Evidently, these participants found the ostensibly mundane statements at least somewhat profound.
This may reflect a response bias toward excess profundity among some participants. Key analyses below are reported with outliers both retained and removed for the mundane statement scale. Focusing on the full sample Table 3, bottom diagonal , BSR was negatively associated with heuristics and biases performance. This replicates Studies 1 and 2. These results were similar when the sample was restricted to those with no knowledge of Deepak Chopra Table 3, top diagonal.
This pattern of results is identical in the restricted sample. These results indicate that, at least for some participants, response bias plays a role in bullshit receptivity and explains some of its association with analytic thinking. The results of Study 3 indicate that the association between profoundness ratings and reflective thinking is largely specific to bullshit items. The lack of correlation between heuristics and biases performance and profoundness ratings for motivational quotations, in particular, indicates that more reflective participants are not merely more skeptical toward all manner of profound-sounding statements.