Macavity - The Mystery Cat
 

BSEB Class 12 English Poem 7 Macavity: The Mystery Cat Summary, Explanation, and Question Answers from Rainbow Book 

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat – BSEB Class 12 English Rainbow Book Poem 7 Macavity: The Mystery Cat Summary and detailed explanation of the poem along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by the literary devices used in the Poem. All the exercises and Question Answers given at the back of the lesson have also been solved.

 

BSEB Class 12 English Rainbow Book Poem 7 – Macavity: The Mystery Cat

By T. S. Eliot

 

 
 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat Introduction

The present poem ‘Macavity: The Mystery Cat’ is from the collection called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which was made into a very successful music on stage by the great composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. Macavity is a wicked cat who is known as ‘Hidden Paw’. He is a notorious criminal, spy, and a trickster who openly disobeys the laws. Macavity is a mastermind and leaves no evidence after committing the crime.
 
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Macavity: The Mystery Cat Summary

Macavity -The Mystery Cat is a poem written by T.S. Eliot who seemed to be fond of cats. The poem is about Macavity, a cat. The cat openly disobeyed the laws and is a criminal.  In the first stanza of the poem he explained why Macavity is called a mystery cat. Macavity disobeyed the laws enforced in the country. The police force, referred to as Scotland yard was constantly confused by his ability to disappear without a trace. The Flying Squad which was running after him always failed to catch him as he was faster than them. He committed crimes, broke the rules, and indulged in mischievous activities, but he was so clever that he was never caught.

In the second stanza of the poem the poet explained how Macavity was known for defying laws and he had disobeyed every human law, including the law of gravity. The speaker exaggerated the cat’s ability by calling it “powers of levitation” by which he meant the capacity to rise and float in air. The poet didn’t actually mean that the cat could stay afloat in the air but instead he described the cat’s ability to fall on its feet. The poet compared a cat’s ability to a fakir and explained how even a fakir would be taken aback by his ability to tackle a fall. Fakir is basically a holy man who lives by begging and can never recreate the cat’s reflex. You could look for him in the basement or up in the sky, but Macavity was so skilled that he would have vanished from the site. Macavity could easily disappear into thin air without leaving any trace behind. He committed a crime, but when you got to the crime scene, Macavity was nowhere to be seen.

In the third stanza of the poem the poet described the cat’s physical appearance and he called him a ginger cat because he was tall and skinny and his eyes were sunken in. His eyebrows were deeply creased as if he was thinking and his head was considerably arched. His fur looked dusty as Macavity rarely paid attention to it, and his whiskers were unkempt. He was full of dust due to the constant ignorance of his skin. Macavity used to sway his head like a snake. He was always alert though one might feel that he was sleeping but he was always wide awake. Macavity was always on alert and that explained his ability to remain hidden from Scotland Yard.

In the fourth stanza of the poem the poet said, “Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity”. The poet called him the incarnation of evil. According to the poet, Macavity was a terrible criminal and was a devil in the shape of a cat. The poet called him a ‘depraved monster’ by which he meant that was an animal with no moral values. He could be found on the street or square but when you wanted to punish him, you could never find him. Macavity could be seen in private streets or crowded places, but once his crime was detected, he escaped and became the mystery cat and he was impossible to locate. Then again the poet said “Macavity’s not there!”

In the fifth stanza of the poem the poet said that Macavity was superficially respected by people because he cheated at cards in such a way that nobody could discover. The poet further explained that Macavity’s footprints were not found in any file of Scotland Yard. He committed every crime. Whenever he looted the food from a cupboard used for storing food, searched thoroughly and stole jewels and milk, whenever he suffocated a dog or broke into a greenhouse or architecture, he quickly vanished away and was never to be found. The poet said that whenever Macavity committed crime it never remained there. Macavity cheated everyone but never left any clue. 

In the sixth stanza of the poem the poet said when the Foreign Officer found that a treaty was gone astray by which he meant that a law was broken or when the Admiralty (police) lost some plans and drawings in which there were plans to catch Macavity were missing they found them later on in the hall or on the stairs but it was useless to investigate as Macavity vanished away. The poet further explained that when the loss was disclosed, the Secret Service would say that it was Macavity who did this. But now it was useless as he was already a mile away. One could find him either resting somewhere or licking his thumb or engaged in doing complicated long division sums like doing some calculations. 

In the seventh stanza, the poet again said that there was no one like Macavity as there was no cat as fraudulent, dishonest, confident and charming as him. He never did crimes alone, he always had an alibi and defence and one or two companions with him. He quickly vanished away as always after committing crime. In the last few lines the poet said that even Macavity’s companions were well known because of their crimes. He mentioned their names as well which were Mungojerrie and Griddlebone. However, they were just agents for Macavity all the time. They just controlled the operations of the master criminal- Macavity.
 
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Video Explanation of Macavity: The Mystery Cat

 

 
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Macavity: The Mystery Cat Poem Explanation

 

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw-

For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.

He’s the bafflement of Scotland yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:

For when they reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there! 

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, 

Defy- flout, disobey, challenge

Bafflement- bewilderment, perplexity

Scotland Yard- headquarters of London Police

Macavity: The Mystery Cat was a poem about Macavity who was a cat. In the first stanza of the poem the poet T.S Eliot introduced Macavity as a mysterious cat and like any notorious criminal, he had a nickname: Hidden Paw. He was also a master criminal. The poet explained further in the poem why Macavity was called a mystery cat. Macavity disobeyed the laws enforced in the country. The police force, referred to as Scotland yard was constantly confused by his ability to disappear without a trace. The headquarters of London Police were unable to understand him. The Flying Squad which was running after him always failed to catch him as he was faster than them. The Flying Squad was known for its capability to reach a crime scene quickly but they were also sad and felt hopeless because Macavity was always faster than the squad. He committed crimes, broke the rules, and indulged in mischievous activities, but he was so clever that he was never caught.

 

He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.

His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,

And when you reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there!

You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air –

But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there! 

Law of gravity- every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers.

Levitation- capacity to rise and float in air (esp. by magic)

Fakir- a holy man who lives by begging

In the second stanza of the poem the poet explained how Macavity was known for defying laws and he had disobeyed every human law, including the law of gravity. The poet talked about the capacity of a cat to position itself as he fell so that he could land on its feet. The speaker exaggerated the cat’s ability by calling it “powers of levitation” by which he meant the capacity to rise and float in air. The poet didn’t actually mean that the cat could stay afloat in the air but instead he described the cat’s ability to fall on its feet. The poet compared a cat’s ability to a fakir and explained how even a fakir would be taken aback by his ability to tackle a fall. Fakir was basically a holy man who lived by begging and could never recreate the cat’s righting reflex. The poet again said when one would reach the scene of crime Macavity would not be there as he was really fast. You could look for him in the basement or up in the sky, but Macavity was so skilled that he would have vanished from the site. Macavity displayed more tricks. Macavity could easily disappear into thin air without leaving any trace behind. He committed a crime, but when you got to the crime scene, Macavity was nowhere to be seen.

 

Macavity’s a ginger cat; he’s very tall and thin;

You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.

His brow is deeply lined with thoughts, his head is highly domed;

His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.

He sways his head from side to side, with movement like a snake;

And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Ginger- tall and thin

Domed- shaped like a dome

In the third stanza of the poem the poet described the cat’s physical appearance and he called him a ginger cat because he was tall and skinny and his eyes were sunken in. His eyebrows were deeply creased as if he was thinking and his head was considerably arched. His fur looked dusty as Macavity rarely paid attention to it, and his whiskers were unkempt. He was full of dust due to the constant ignorance of his skin. Macavity used to sway his head like a snake. He was always alert though one might feel that he was sleeping but he was always wide awake. Macavity was always on alert and that explained his ability to remain hidden from Scotland Yard.

 

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,

For he’s fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.

You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square –

But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

Fiend- an evil spirit

Feline- (of or like) an animal of the cat family 

Depravity- corruption, wickedness

In the fourth stanza of the poem the poet said, “Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity” and then he explained why there was no one like Macavity. The poet called him the incarnation of evil. According to the poet, Macavity was a terrible criminal and was a devil in the shape of a cat. The poet called him a ‘depraved monster’ by which he meant that was an animal with no moral values. He could be found on the street or square but when you wanted to punish him, you could never find him. Macavity was known for his ability to remain hidden, it didn’t  mean that he was always in his hideout. Macavity could be seen in private streets or crowded places, but once his crime was detected, he escaped and became the mystery cat and he was impossible to locate. Then again the poet said “Macavity’s not there!”

 

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)

And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.

And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,

Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,

Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair

Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

Outwardly- superficially

Larder- a cupboard used for storing food

Rifled- searched thoroughly

Stifled- suffocated, strangled

Trellis- framework to support climbing plants

In the fifth stanza of the poem the poet said that Macavity was superficially respected by people because he cheated at cards in such a way that nobody could discover. The poet further explained that Macavity’s footprints were not found in any file of Scotland Yard. He committed every crime. Whenever he looted the food from a cupboard used for storing food, searched thoroughly and stole jewels and milk, whenever he suffocated a dog or broke into a greenhouse or architecture, he quickly vanished away and was never to be found. The poet said that whenever Macavity committed crime it never remained there. Macavity cheated everyone but never left anything back. 

 

And when the foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,

Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,

There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair –

But it’s useless to investigate , – Macavity’s not there!

And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:

‘It must have been Macavity!’ but he’s a mile away.

You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,

Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Treaty’s gone astray- agreement contravened or violated

Disclosed- revealed, made known

a-licking of thumbs- evaluation of success of one’s deed

In the sixth stanza of the poem the poet said when the Foreign Officer found that a treaty was gone astray by which he meant that a law was broken or when the Admiralty (police) lost some plans and drawings in which there were plans to catch Macavity were missing they found them later on in the hall or on the stairs but it was useless to investigate as Macavity vanished away. The poet further explained that when the loss was disclosed, the Secret Service would say that it was Macavity who did this. But now it was useless as he was already a mile away. One could find him either resting somewhere or licking his thumb or engaged in doing complicated long division sums like doing some calculations. 

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,

There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.

He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:

At whatever time the deed took place –

MACAVITY WASN’T THERE! 

Deceitfulness- fraudulence, dishonesty

Suavity- treachery; he is deceitful but conceals it with great skill and elegance

Alibi- excuse, defence

In the seventh stanza, the poet again said that there was no one like Macavity as there was no cat as fraudulent, dishonest, confident and charming as him. He never did crimes alone, he always had an alibi and defence and one or two companions with him. He quickly vanished away as always after committing crime. 

 

And they say that all the Cats whose

wicked deeds are widely known

(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)

Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time

Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime! 

In the last few lines the poet said that even Macavity’s companions were also well known because of their crimes. He mentioned their names as well which were Mungojerrie and Griddlebone. However, they were just agents for the Macavity all the time. They just controlled the operations of the master criminal- Macavity.

 

Poetic/Literary Devices

Following poetic/literary devices have been used in the poem Macavity the Mystery Cat:

  1. Rhyme scheme – aabbccdd
  2. Personification: Personification is giving human characteristics to animals or non-living things. Here in the poem, Macavity is personified as he does all the things like humans. The poet has personified the cat by using the pronoun ‘he’ instead of ‘it’ for it. 
  3. Anaphora: –Anaphora is the repetition of a word at the start of consecutive lines like

 And – ‘And’ his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.

‘And’ when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled, 

Or – ‘Or’ when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,

‘Or’ the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair

  1. Alliteration: It is the repetition of consonant sound in the line. e.g. “Macavity’s Mystery”, “head is highly”, “side to side” etc.
  2. Symbolism: The poet uses various symbols in the poem. e.g. his appearance symbolises his villainous character, footprints symbolise his name. The poet has called Macavity ‘a monster of depravity’.
  3. Simile: It is a common poetic device in which the subject of the poem is described by comparing it to another object or subject, using ‘as’ or ‘like’. The poet has compared the movement of the Macavity’s head to the movements of a snake.
  4. Allusion-  An allusion is when an author or poet makes an indirect reference to some idea, figure, other text, place, or event that originates from outside. The poet is referring to Napoleon in the last line.
  5. Repetition – The poet repeats words and lines in order to emphasize on the seriousness of the issue that Macavity always escapes from the crime scene.
  6. Hyperbole – The use of exaggeration like reference to flying squad, Scotland Yard and fakir

 
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Macavity The Mystery Cat Question Answer

 

Exercises

 

B.1. 1. Read the following sentences and write ‘T’ for true and ‘F’ for false statements:

a) Macavity is an ordinary cat.

b) Macavity is an outlaw.

c) Macavity is always there on the scene of crime.

d) Macavity can be found in the basement.

e) The poet finds Macavity lazy and half-asleep.

f) It can be seen in the by-street.

g) Mungojerrie and Griddlebone are also cats.

h) The poet is really angry with Macavity.

i) The poet compares Macavity to Napolean. 

Answer-

a) Macavity is an ordinary cat. False

b) Macavity is an outlaw. True

c) Macavity is always there on the scene of crime. False

d) Macavity can be found in the basement. False

e) The poet finds Macavity lazy and half-asleep. True

f) It can be seen in the by-street. True

g) Mungojerrie and Griddlebone are also cats. True

h) The poet is really angry with Macavity. False

i) The poet compares Macavity to Napolean. True

 

B.1 2. Answer the following questions briefly:

1) Why does the poet call Macavity, a mystery cat?

Answer-

The poet calls Macavity a mystery cat because he is a notorious criminal, whose nickname is Hidden Paw. Macavity disobeys the laws enforced in the country. The Flying Squad running after him always fails to catch him as he is faster than them. He commits crimes, breaks the rules, and indulges in mischievous activities, but he is so clever that he is never caught. That’s why the poet calls Macavity the mystery cat.

 

2) What are the adjectives that have been used to describe Macavity’s character?

Answer-

The adjectives that have been used to describe Macavity’s character are ‘ginger’ because he is tall and skinny and his eyes are sunken in. He is also described as a ‘fiend’ because he is evil and a ‘monster’ because he is an animal with no moral values.

 

3) Why is Macavity termed a ‘criminal’?

Answer-

Macavity is termed as a criminal because he defies the law and indulges in criminal activities such as he loots the food from a cupboard used for storing food, search thoroughly and steal jewels and milk, whenever he suffocate a dog or break into a greenhouse or architecture, he quickly vanishes away and is never to be found. 

 

4) What is suggested by the phrase ‘powers of levitation’?

Answer-

The phrase ‘powers of levitation’ has been used to explain the cat’s supernatural and extraordinary ability to rise and float in air. 

 

5) What would you do if a cat enters your kitchen? Would you keep a cat as pet? 

Answer-

Cats can carry parasites such as tapeworms, heartworm and fleas. When cat goes outdoors, she can pick up parasite eggs along with soil bacteria between her claws. Because of this, cats should never be allowed in the kitchen or anywhere the food is prepared or eaten so I will immediately drive the cat away in case it enters my kitchen. No, I won’t keep a cat as a pet.

 

C.1. LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS

  1. Discuss the poet’s impression of Macavity, the mystery cat. Why does he call it mysterious?

Answer-

In the poem ‘Macavity: The Mystery Cat’, the cat is neither a stray cat nor a pet who openly disobeys the laws and is a criminal. The poet finds it a wonder-cat because after committing a wrong act it is never found on the scene of the crime. He calls it mysterious because it acts like a smart criminal who couldn’t be ever caught because he hides himself or leaves the place immediately after committing the crime.

 

  1. ‘Macavity is never there’. Elaborate.

Answer-

Macavity is never there’ is the phrase which shows that he is very cunning, deceitful and is a criminal-minded cat. He defies law and commits crime like he steals the food, jewels and milk,  breaking the greenhouse glass or architecture, but still it is never found at the crime scene. After committing something wrong and injurious it is always traceless. Macavity leaves the place where it happens to commit a misdeed and vanishes from there. It becomes baffling for investigating agencies.

 

  1. Why does the poet call Macavity ‘outwardly respectable’? Discuss

Answer-

The poet calls Macavity superficially outwardly respectable because he cheats at cards in such a way that nobody can discover it. He has worn a mask of innocence and decency. Macavity is the most cunning and indistinct cat as he leaves no trace of his previous criminal record in the files of the detective agency like Scotland Yard

 

  1. There are other cats like Mungojerrie and Griddlebone, but ‘there’s no one like Macavity’. Explain.

Answer-

There are other cats like Mungojerrie and Griddlebone, but ‘there’s no one like Macavity’ by this poet means that Macavity’s companions are also well known because of their crimes  and wrong activities. Macavity can’t be compared with them because he is the mastermind of all such cats. However, they are just the agents for the Macavity all the time. They control the operations of Napoleon of Crime by which the poet means Macavity.

 

  1. Make a list of crimes Macavity is capable of

Answer-

Macavity is capable of doing different kinds of crimes such as defying the law, drinking the milk, misplacing the jewel-box, stealing or removing the important documents such as treaty papers, admiralty drawings and breaking greenhouse glass. Macavity also indulges in various other impure and humiliating acts, which causes much damage to the society and he leaves no trace of his previous criminal record in the files of the detective agency like Scotland Yard.

 

  1. What would you do to tame Macavity?

Answer-

Taming a cat like Macavity will not be an easy task so I would work out a plan for the proper training to tame Macavity. When a cat is doing something which we don’t like, we should simply use our voice to stop them. A simple ‘No’ or ‘Hey’ said in a loud, firm voice will get the job done. Although it is a cat, I would leave a huge bowl of milk in the kitchen to trap it and then I would be strict with it and monitor it’s every movement and activity until it becomes a little disciplined. 

 

  1. Do you find the poem humorous? Give your comments on the poem. 

Answer-

Yes, the poem is full of humour and it must be taken as a poem with lighter notes. It is also amusing  and comical because there can’t be a cat like this which can commit such crimes and moreover it can’t be caught by the police. There is no seriousness in the poem and it can be studied for enjoyment purposes only.

 

C.3. COMPOSITION

Write a short essay in about 150 words on the following:

a.Your favourite pet

Answer-

Pets are a blessing that only lucky people get to have. I have been lucky enough to have few pets since my childhood. I love my pet dog very much. His name is Scotch. He has brown fur with white small patches on body. He is one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen. We spend a lot of time together. I always take good care of him. We both go to the park for a walk daily. He is growing very fast. I take him to the doctor every month for vaccination. My pet has become my best friend and I enjoy his company a lot. I always have a lot of fun with my pet. It is actually a very good habit to keep pets. These are important for a relaxed life and make your life more beautiful. Every family should have at least single pet at their home to amuse them. It is also very important to take good care of your pet. However, he is now an inseparable part of my life. I love spending time with him and he manages to make my saddest days happier.

 

b.Animals in prison 

Answer-

Animals are an important part of our ecosystem and are very useful to us. But, we sometimes forget that they are also living creatures. We keep on harassing them and these poor creatures can’t even express their feelings and grief. Cruelty towards animals has become an international matter of concern. In today’s society we believe that it is acceptable to take animals out of their natural habitat and keep them in cages for our own personal gain. But, no habitat will ever be as large as their natural home. This is almost identical to what is happening in the prison system. The animals feel unsettled when they are kept in prison and their freedom is taken away. In prison, they are not well treated and they suffer a lot. They don’t get proper food, environment and care. Malnutrition kills hundreds of prision animals all over the world. From the lack of food or being fed the wrong diet. They must be taken care of nicely for their improvement as they are also a very important part of our life.

 

D.WORD STUDY

D.1 Dictionary Use 

 

Ex. 1. Look up a dictionary and write two meanings of each of the following words – the one in which it is used in the lesson and the other which is more common

  

ginger loot alibi coat
master pulse repair 

 

Answer-

 

Ginger

  1. A SE Asian plant,
  2. A spice
Loot

  1. Spoils
  2. Booty 
Alibi

  1. Shield
  2. Defence
Coat

  1. Overcoat
  2. Tunic
Master

  1. Education
  2. Teacher 
Pulse

  1. Heartbeat
  2. Thron
Repair

  1. Mend
  2. Restor

 

D.2. Word-formation

Read the following line carefully:

His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare…

For he’s fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity. 

 

In the first line given above ‘levitation’, which is a noun, is derived from ‘levity’ which is also a noun by adding a suffix ‘ation’ to it. In the second line, ‘depravity, a noun, is derived from a verb ‘deprave’ by adding a suffix ‘ity’ to it.

Form words from the following nouns and verbs by adding a suffix to them:

 

gravity baffle national profound jovial celebrate

 

Answer-

 

Gravity-

Gravitation

Baffle-

Bafflement

National-

Nationality

Profound-

Profounded 

Jovial-

Joviality

Celebrate-

Celebration

 

D.3. Word-meaning

E.1. Match the words in Column A with their meaning in Column B:

 

Column A Column B
paw away from the correct path
stare covered with dust 
dusty having an elegant manner
depravity excuse
astray foot of an animal
suavity  look sternly
alibi  room below the ground level

          

Answer-

 

Column A Column B
paw foot of an animal
stare look sternly
dusty covered with dust 
depravity away from the correct path
astray room below the ground level
suavity  having an elegant manner
alibi  excuse

 

E.GRAMMAR

Ex. 1. Fill in the blanks selecting suitable words given in the bracket against each sentence:

i.If you …….  to him, he would help you. (go, went)

ii.Their footprints ………..  seen there. (was, were)

iii. When you ………  here, I will help you. (reach, will reach)

iv.The boy ………… father lives here is my friend. (whom, whose)

v.Manoj is the boy …………. can do anything. (who, whom)

vi.Sita is engaged ………….. some important work today. (in, with)

vii. He is more ………. a poet. (than, but) 

viii. She ……  herself even in a critical situation. (control, controls)

ix.He has …… every human law. (broke, broken)

x.There may be ………  point of discussion. (a, the)

 

Answer-

i.If you went to him, he would help you. (go, went)

ii.Their footprints were seen there. (was, were)

iii. When you reach  here, I will help you. (reach, will reach)

iv.The boy whose father lives here is my friend. (whom, whose)

v.Manoj is the boy who can do anything. (who, whom)

vi.Sita is engaged in some important work today. (in, with)

vii. He is more than a poet. (than, but) 

viii. She controls  herself even in a critical situation. (control, controls)

ix.He has broken every human law. (broke, broken)

x.There may be a point of discussion. (a, the)
 
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