By the Bog of Cats

By the Bog of Cats Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why is Hester against the wedding of Carthage Kilbride and Caroline Cassidy? Why does Carthage want Hester to leave the Bog of Cats?

    Hester is in love with Carthage Kilbride and does not want him to marry Caroline Cassidy, believing that he is only doing so for the girl’s money and land. Hester wants Carthage to stay with her and their daughter, and for them to all live in her birthplace on the bog.

    Carthage wants Hester to leave the Bog of Cats so that he and Caroline can start their new life without focusing on his past with Hester. He feels that her presence will cause them harm, and as we learn later in the play, he feels shame and remorse at having played a part in the murder of Hester's brother, Joseph.

  2. 2

    What are the two sides of Hester?

    In one sense, Hester is a good and moral woman. She is a loving and warm mother to her daughter, Josie, an intuitive person who has a special connection to the Bog of Cats and its history. However, she says herself that there are two sides to her psyche. The other side of Hester has been marred by early childhood trauma, by the negligence and abandonment of her mother, and by her mistreatment by nearly everyone in her community. This side of her is incredibly dark and twisted, and as we eventually see, capable of murder.

  3. 3

    Why does Hester kill her brother Joseph?

    Hester kills Joseph out of jealousy. He had the life that she wanted with her mother and father. He makes her feel that she was unwanted and unloved. Seeing the house where he grew up with their father makes her realize what she could have had, and so she lashes out in anger and jealousy. While it is suggested that she did so because she wanted his money, she reveals that her malice was borne of deep envy and resentment.

  4. 4

    Why does Hester kill her daughter?

    Hester kills Josie so that she will not have the same longing for the return of her mother that Hester has suffered since she was seven. In worrying about losing her daughter to Carthage and Caroline, Hester becomes mad with possessiveness, and decides that the only way to keep Josie with her is to kill her, and then herself. It does not make much logical sense, but it is yet another instance in which Hester's violent rage overcomes her sense of propriety.

  5. 5

    How is the plot of the play circular?

    In the first scene, Hester Swane is visited by the Ghost Fancier, who insinuates that she will be dead by the end of the day. While there is some discussion with the Catwoman about the fact that Hester can perhaps save herself if she elects to leave the Bog of Cats, Hester hardly ever seems like she takes this proposition seriously, and stubbornly insists that she will stay in the Bog of Cats until her mother returns. The end of the play stages Hester's death, with the added horror of her murder of her daughter. In this sense, the Ghost Fancier's prophecy, as well as her mother's curse—that she would die on the same day that the black swan died—comes true, and the plot circles back to the events foretold in the first scene.