Analysis of Edgar A. Poe Through the Tell-Tale Heart

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Trey Rutherford
Mrs. Keri Mathis
ENGL 1102
13 February 2013
Discovering the Darkness: A Psychological Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe In every culture, in every nation around the world, there are those names which echo in the minds of the people. These names are bred into every individual from childhood as masters of their crafts, whether such a craft is in the arts, athletics, or academics. One such name in American history that must be agreed upon as one of the masters and shapers of American literature is a Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. This man brought to the American literary style a darkness that can be described as a reflection to Poe’s own life and mental state over the course of his lifetime. One such work, Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” mirrors its author’s deteriorating mental state through the use of the central character of the narrator.

Who was this man, though? Edgar Allan Poe, born simply as Edgar Poe on 19 January 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, was orphaned near the age of two after his mother died of consumption (now known as pulmonary tuberculosis) a year following his father’s abandonment of the family. Consequently, Poe was placed in the care of John Allan, a Scottish merchant in Richmond, Virginia. The Allan’s became a foster family for Poe, giving him the name “Edgar Allan Poe,” though never officially adopting the young man. Poe would attend the University of Virginia for a short period, studying ancient and modern language until he was forced to leave the institution for financial reasons. From his birth to his death in 1849 (at forty years of age), Poe would experience issues with both his mental and physical health, a fact easily seen through the darkness of his stories and mentally estranged characters he created to act in them.

One such story is Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” which centers on a narrator who constantly claims to be a sane man, while his actions and thoughts prove otherwise. He (the narrator) constantly makes references to his...