An Analysis of Tell-Tale Heart

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How does Poe use language and character to create tension in ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’?

Edgar Allen Poe is considered to be a master of writing macabre stories. Poe generally writes using this theme which shows he is comfortable with writing morbid dark tales. He is able to write short stories which are full of tension – one main example being ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. The genre choice being ‘short story’ automatically creates tension. Compared to a general ‘novel’ they are massively different. A short story will leave a ton of details out of the story which may raise a lot of questions about some of the deeper secrets within the story. These questions are not answered leaving you to work it out for yourself as the story progresses. Short stories are read by different people although the whole story is aimed to get one response because it only gives out the main points and emotions conveyed within the story. A novel is able to open out as many opinions as possible within whoever reads the book. Poe lost his mother at a young age and was abandoned by his father shortly after which most likely had changed the type of person he was. He took up alcohol and became addicted but then later suffered from bouts of madness and depression and even had attempted suicide. It is argued that these experiences and personal issues influenced the stories he wrote. Already, at the start of the story, questions are raised about his sanity. “But why WILL you say that I am mad?”

It is written in 1st person which shows how we are only able to read only his thoughts and views about what is going on. This could be seen as talking to himself and trying to convince himself about the fact that he isn’t mad. This causes the reader to think this man is an unreliable narrator and we lose trust over his insanity. But he may also be talking to the audience and readers with these rhetorical questions to show he isn’t mad. Poe does this to create tension immediately after we hear him say a few...
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