Analytical Essay On Tell-Tale Heart

But no sooner has he concealed the body than there’s a knock at the door: it’s the police, having been called out by a neighbour who heard a shriek during the night.

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But along with the ‘motiveless’ nature of the narrator’s crime, the other aspect of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ which makes it such a powerful analysis of the nature of crime and guilt is the slight ambiguity hovering over that sound which taunts the narrator at the end of the story.

It seems most likely that the sound exists only in his head, since the policemen are apparently oblivious to it as they continue to chat away calmly to the narrator.

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The narrator of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ is clearly unstable, as the end of the story reveals, but his mental state is questionable right from the start, as the jerky syntax of his narrative suggests: True! His repeated protestations that he is sane and merely subject to ‘over acuteness of the senses’ don’t fully convince: there is too much in his manner (to say nothing of his baseless murder of the old man) to suggest otherwise. Even his proffered motive – the old man’s ‘Evil Eye’ – is weak.

– nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? And indeed, what makes ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ especially chilling – and here we might draw a parallel with another of Poe’s best-known tales, ‘The Black Cat’ – is that the killer freely confesses that his murder of the old man was a motiveless crime: I loved the old man. He has to convince himself that that was why he did it, it was his eye?A reading of a classic horror story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ is a Gothic novel in miniature.All of the elements of the Gothic novel are here: the subterranean secret, the Gothic space (scaled down from a full-blown castle to a single room), the gruesome crime – even the hovering between the supernatural and the psychological. An unnamed narrator confesses that he has murdered an old man, apparently because of the old man’s ‘Evil Eye’ which drove the narrator to kill him.He believes that it is the beating of the dead man’s heart, taunting him from beyond the grave. and observe how healthily – how calmly I can tell you the whole story. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – Murder is never justified, but it is sometimes understandable when a person has been driven to extremes and isn’t thinking clearly.Eventually, he can’t stand it any more, and tells the police to tear up the floorboards, the sound of the old man’s beating heart driving him to confess his crime. The multiple dashes, the unusual syntactical arrangement, the exclamation and question marks: all suggest someone who is, at the very least, excitable. But Poe’s narrator didn’t even kill the old man for something as cynical as financial gain.He keeps his calm while showing them around, until they go and sit down in the room below which the victim’s body is concealed.The narrator and the police officers talk, but gradually the narrator begins to hear a ringing in his ears, a noise that becomes louder and more insistent. He had the eye of a vulture – a pale blue eye, with a film over it.Driven by obsession, and the constant denial of being a ‘madman’, the character proves to be a perverse, calculating and attentive character whose morals are not in the right place.A point in the story that came across as odd was the the killer’s inability to process the difference between real and unreal.Closer analysis of the story reveals that an important precursor-text to ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, and probable influence on Poe, is William Shakespeare’s , the old man’s beating heart in Poe’s story); both Macbeth and Poe’s narrator show signs of being at least a little mentally unstable; in both texts, the murder of the victim is followed by a knocking at the door.But what makes Poe’s tale especially effective is the way he employs doubling to suggest that it is perfectly natural that the narrator should be paranoid about the sound coming from the floorboards.


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