In T. S. Eliot’s poem “Macavity: The Mystery Cat,” a villainous character is described. Macavity is a tall and thin individual with a taste for thievery. His brow is “deeply lined,” possibly a result of his thorough planning of crimes. He is neglected by society and wears a dusty coat. Macavity has sunken-in eyes and a highly domed head. He never combs his whiskers and thus appears mangy. He spends his time plotting illegal acts and carrying his plans out. Macavity is said to have broken “every human law,” and constantly evades capture.
For example, Macavity has stolen a treaty from the Foreign Office and some plans and drawings from the Admiralty. Not only does he break human laws; he also breaks laws of physics, such as gravity, for he is able to levitate. He is the scourge of every justice agency in the world, including Scotland Yard, and the Flying Squad, who specializes in investigating and stopping armed robberies. Regardless of how certain the authorities are of Macavity’s guilt, there is never enough evidence to convict him and he is never found even remotely near the scene of the crime.
One of Macavity’s most effective qualities in aiding his crimes is that he is none other than a cat. Had Macavity been a human being who committed the same flagrant crimes, there would surely be evidence of some form left behind to convict the criminal. He would then have faced severe punishment for his acts of law-breaking. However, due to Macavity’s species, the authorities are left clueless. They are utterly stumped, for even if they did have evidence pointing to the cat, there would be very little that the authorities could do with it.
It would be a very hard challenge to convict a cat of any treasonable crimes. No one would take the case seriously, and Macavity would get off without trial or conviction. The author adds comedy to this poem by writing of some of the less horrible crimes that Macavity commits, such as stealing milk and killing dogs. It is humorous to visualize a cat doing such things, for the species as a whole are known as crafty beings.