Comparing the Open Window and the Tell-Tale Heart

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Using the Ideas of Northrup Frye to Compare The Open Window and The Tell-Tale Heart Brett Eiffes
According to Northrup Frye’s book, The Anatomy of Criticism, there are two different modes of prose: the romance and the novel. In the case of shorter prose he calls them the tale and the short story. The short story, The Open Window by Saki, and the tale, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, demonstrate these two modes of prose fiction. While reading The Open Window I found it a more realistic and extroverted story while the Tell-Tale Heart was more of an unlikely and introverted story. These two different stories each show different aspects of the tale and the short story.

Both of these stories were set in a house however, we know that The Tell-Tale Heart is set in a house in the past as result of a few details Edgar Allan Poe reveals. For example, the speaker uses a lantern and he also states, “the shutters were close fastened” (2). We are also not entirely sure why the speaker is in the Old Man’s house or why he belongs there. This tale is set in the past in a mysterious location, both of which are characteristics of the tale. In contrast, The Open Window is set in a lavish, early twentieth century English home. The story has a more contemporary setting compared to that of The Tell-Tale Heart. Although the stories both take place in a house, the time in which they are set is different. These two stories also have two different viewpoints. The Tell-Tale Heart is a first-person narrative, which relies on the narrator, while The Open Window has an omniscient third-person viewpoint. These viewpoints reflect the ideas, developed by Northrup Frye, of the tale and of the short story.

The types of characters introduced in each of these stories is different, in that Saki presents us with believable, everyday people while Edgar Allan Poe presents us with characters who are larger than life. The main character of Vera in The Open Window has a mix of good and bad...
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