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The Tell Tale Heart
Edgar Allan Poe, whose personal torment so
powerfully informed his visionary prose and poetry, is
a towering figure in the history of American literature.
A Virginia gentleman and the son of itinerant actors,
the heir to great fortune and a disinherited outcast, a
university man who had failed to graduate, a soldier
brought out of the army, a husband with an
unapproachable child-bride, a brilliant editor and low
salaried hack, a world renowned but impoverish
author, a temperate man and uncontrollable alcoholic,
a materialist who yearned for a final union with God.
His fevered imagination brought him to great heights
of creativity and the depths of paranoiac despair. Yet
although he produced a relatively small volume of
work, he virtually invented the horror and detective
genres and his literary legacy endures to this day.
In the Tell Tale Heart the main character, the narrator,
has a problem with an old man, the antagonist, whom
he is living with. The odd thing is that the problem has
nothing to do with old man, how he acts, or even his
attitude towards the narrator. It is simply one of the
old man\'s eyes which is blind or he can\'t see a
hundred percent in one eye. The narrator\'s
description of the eye is that it resembled that of a
vulture, pale blue with a film over it. When the
narrator looked at it, it caused his blood to run cold.
This drove him crazy and caused him to kill the old
He begins to believe that he is hearing the old man\'s
heart beating, while he was killing him and after he is
dead. The pounding becomes louder and louder, and
drives him crazy. It forces him to tell the police
officers, who are searching his house, that he killed
the old man and showed them were the body is
buried, which is the most ironic and the last thing you
would think to happen. The irony comes into play
when his heightened sense of hearing and sober
madness is the cause of his downfall. How ironic, the
same craze that led him to kill the man is the same
craze that led him to his demise.
The story takes place in a house around the turn of the
1800, probably in the northeastern part of the United States,
and covers the period of one week and the relentless pursuit
of perfect preparation the narrator went through to commit
murder without getting caught. The story involves an old
man, the antagonist, the police, and the protagonist, who is
also the narrator, and tells the story from his point of view.
On the other hand we have no idea of the relationship
between the antagonist, the old man and the narrator, but
what is told to us by the narrator. One tends to wander if
they were related or was he simply a servant for hire and
therefore cared for the old man. The narrator has left a lot to
our imagination on the relationship of the characters.
His insanity has made him a very paranoid man, he believes
that everyone is trying to make a full of him, even thought he
believed he carried out a perfect murder. He bragged about
his preparation, and thought that the old suspected nothing
of his plain of terror and mayhem. The narrator who is
aware of what is it to be mad, but cannot bring himself to
believe that he himself is insane. He believes that since he is
able to recollect and present every detail of the events that
took place proves that he is not insane. He believes that he
is sane because of the manner in which he carried out the
crime of murder.
His reason for wanting the old man dead is without motive.
"I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had
never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire" the
narrator thinks that he has no clear motive and that he loves
the old man. The truth in the matter is that he knows he
cannot bring himself to admit to the point that only a mad
man would kill someone just because of the way their eyes
looked. ‘ It was not the old man who vexed me, but his evil
eye.’ He tries to explain his reason without implicating
himself. The narrator makes us aware
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Point of view, Style, The Tell-Tale Heart, Narration, The Black Cat
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