Macavity: The Mystery Cat, Class 8 English Honeydew Book Poem 3 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

Macavity: The Mystery Cat Class 8 English Honeydew Book Poem 3 – Detailed explanation of the poem along with meanings of difficult words and literary devices used in the poem. Given here is the complete explanation of the Poems, along with summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson


 

Class 8 English (Honeydew Book) Poem 3 – Macavity: The Mystery Cat

By T.S. Eliot

 

poem 3 macavity the mystery cat

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat- Introduction

Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot is a piece of creation inspired by the infamous criminal mastermind, Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. The poet has represented the criminal in the form of a ginger-coloured cat, who is very tall and thin. In his poem, the poet has represented Macavity as the “master criminal”, “a monster of depravity”, “ the bafflement of Scotland Yard” and “the Flying Squad’s despair”.

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat- Summary

Macavity is the name of a ginger-colored mystery cat who is also known as the ‘Hidden Paw’.  He is called the ‘Hidden Paw’ because he does all his work in complete secrecy. He has also been called the ‘master criminal’ who openly refuses to obey the law. He is the reason behind the failure, confusion and frustration of Scotland Yard and the Flying Squad because by the time they reach the place where a crime has been committed, Macavity has already left. He is very tall and lean. The poet says it is easy to identify him at the first glance as he has sunken eyes. He is always thinking. He has the domed forehead of a thinker. He does not take much care of himself which is visible from his clothes. There is no one like Macavity because he is exceptional and his skills are unmatched for. He has defied all man-made laws and even some laws of nature. He has broken the law of gravity with his jumps. Because of such powers, when the police reach the crime scene, they are unable to find Macavity. He is a devil in the form of a cat. The poet even calls him a “monster” of moral corruption. One must pass by him at the by-street or in the square generally but whenever a crime is discovered, Macavity is nowhere to be found on the crime scene.

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat- Poem and 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!

Defy- disobey or resist openly

Bafflement- to confuse; to frustrate

Scotland Yard- the headquarters of the London police force

Flying Squad- a group of police or soldiers ready to move into action quickly

Macavity is the name of a mystery cat who is also known as the ‘Hidden Paw’. He is called the ‘Hidden Paw’ because he does all his work in complete secrecy and doesn’t leave any proof behind. He has also been called the ‘master criminal’ who openly refuses to obey the law. He is the reason behind the failure, confusion and frustration of Scotland Yard and the Flying Squad because by the time they reach the place where a crime has been committed, Macavity has already left. 

 

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

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! 

Levitation- floating in the air without support 

Fakir- a member of an Islamic religious group, or a Hindu holy man

The poet mentions that there is no one like Macavity because he is exceptional and his skills are unmatched. He has defied all man-made laws and even some laws of nature. He has broken the law of gravity with his jumps. His jumping skills would even shock a fakir (known for their powers) and would make the fakir stare in astonishment, because of such powers, when the police reach the crime scene, they are unable to find Macavity. They may look for him in the basement or even in the air, but they cannot catch a single sight of Macavity.

 

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 thought, his head is highly domed;

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

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

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

Ginger cat- cats with ginger-like (or orangeish) colour

Domed- round shaped

Neglect- fail to care for properly

Whiskers- long, stiff hairs growing on the face of a cat

Sways- move or cause to move slowly

Macavity is a ginger-colored cat. He is very tall and lean. The poet says it is easy to identify him at the first glance as he has sunken eyes. He is always thinking, which is evident from his brow. He has the domed forehead of a thinker. He does not take much care of himself which is visible from his clothes. His coat is unclean because of lack of care and his whiskers are unkempt. He is always seen moving his head just like how a snake moves. The poet mentions that when one must think he is almost asleep, he is actually wide awake instead.  

 

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

For he’s a 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- devil

Feline- of, or relating to, a cat

Depravity- moral corruption

Macavity is exceptional and his skills are unmatched for. He is a devil in the form of a cat. The poet even calls him a “monster” of moral corruption. One must pass by him at the by-street or in the square generally but whenever a crime is discovered, Macavity is nowhere to be found on the crime scene.

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat- Rhyme Scheme

The rhyme scheme for the poem is aabb.

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat- Literary Devices

1. Personification- the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form. 

In the poem, Macavity is personified

2. Anaphora- the repetition of a word or phrase 

“Macavity Macavity”, “Macavity’s not there”

3. Alliteration- the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words

“Macavity’s mystery”, “head is highly ” and “side to side”

4. Symbolism- the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities

Eg- his appearance symbolises his villain-like character 

 

Macavity: The Mystery Cat- Question and Answers

1.Read the first stanza and think. 

(i) Is Macavity a cat really? 

A. Actually, Macavity is not a cat. T. S. Eliot, in his poem, has very skillfully woven the representation of a master criminal in the form of a cat. Thus, Macavity is a master criminal in reality.

(ii) If not, who can Macavity be? 

A. Macavity is a master criminal. In his full poem, T.  S. Eliot has described Macavity as someone who is skillful and fierce. In the full poem, he has referred to him as “Napoleon” and has also drawn a reference with Professor Moriarty, the infamous villain from Sherlock Holmes.

 

2. Complete the following sentences. 

(i) A master criminal is one who ___________________ 

(ii) The Scotland Yard is baffled because ___________________ 

(iii) ___________________ because Macavity moves much faster than them. 

Solution-

(i) A master criminal is one who defies the law, escapes the scene of crime and evades arrest. 

(ii) The Scotland Yard is baffled because as soon as they reach the scene of crime, Macavity is not there.

(iii) Flying Squad is unable to arrest Macavity because Macavity moves much faster than them. 

 

3. “A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through”. (Jules Verne) Which law is Macavity breaking in the light of the comment above? 

A. In the comment, “A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through”, Macavity is believed to be breaking the law of gravity.

 

4. Read stanza 3, and then, describe Macavity in two or three sentences of your own. 

A. Macavity is a ginger-colored cat. He is very tall and lean. He is easily identifiable as he has sunken eyes. He is always thinking, which is evident from his brow. He has the domed forehead of a thinker. His coat is unclean because of lack of care and his whiskers are unkempt. He is always seen moving his head sideways just how a snake moves. When one must think he is almost asleep, he is actually wide awake instead.  

 

5. Say ‘False’ or ‘True’ for each of the following statements. 

(i) Macavity is not an ordinary cat. 

(ii) Macavity cannot do what a fakir can easily do. 

(iii) Macavity has supernatural powers. 

(iv) Macavity is well-dressed, smart and bright. 

(v) Macavity is a spy, a trickster and a criminal, all rolled in one. 

Solution-

(i) Macavity is not an ordinary cat. -True  

(ii) Macavity cannot do what a fakir can easily do. -False  

(iii) Macavity has supernatural powers. -False

(iv) Macavity is well-dressed, smart and bright. -False 

(v) Macavity is a spy, a trickster and a criminal, all rolled in one. -True 

 

6. Having read the poem, try to guess whether the poet is fond of cats. If so, why does he call Macavity a fiend and monster? 

A. The poet seems to be fond of cats, the skills, intelligence and the cleverness of Macavity. He has talked about his swift movements and criminal mastermind. However, Macavity is still a criminal who defies human laws and is a monster of moral corruption, thus the poet has called him a “fiend” and a “monster”.

 

7. Has the poet used exaggeration for special effect? Find a few examples of it and read those lines aloud.

A. Yes, the poet has used exaggeration for special effects/ hyperbolic statements-

“He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair”

“His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare”

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