Analytical Essay On Tell-Tale Heart

Analytical Essay On Tell-Tale Heart-47
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.

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.

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Consider the ‘motiveless malignity’ of Iago, perhaps Shakespeare’s finest villain, who offers a number of potential motives for wanting to destroy the lives of Othello and Desdemona, and in doing so reveals that he very probably doesn’t have a real motive – other than wishing to cause trouble for the hell of it.

But is not Poe’s main Shakespearean intertext for ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.

This proves the character to be very cautious and attentive. Also, in the opening the door, the killer relays “I moved it slowly-very, very slowly, so that I may not wake the old man.

One example in particular that stands out is when the narrator accidently wakes the old man, and says, “For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and I did not hear him lay down. It took me an hour to place my whole head in the opening” (Poe104).

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.

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.

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.

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