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The Tell-Tale Heart and Symbolism

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The Tell-Tale Heart and Symbolism

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Like many of Edgar Allen Poe's works, "The Tell-Tale Heart" is full of death and darkness. Poe used many of the real life tragedies he experienced as inspiration for his gothic style of writing. Poe dealt with many aspects of death and madness in his stories, madness again is playing a key role in the plot. In this short story Poe used literary devices such as point of view and symbolism to give it a more dramatic effect and add to the madness the narrator portrays.

Poe's use of the point of view device is very evident in "The Tell-Tale Heart". The madman that speaks through the entire story talks in an unreliable first person view. Because of the man's obvious madness you are not sure what is taking place in the introduction and what the actual events of the story were. Although there is a definite madness in the man's attitude and he is constantly aware of it yet he makes many claims that he is not mad at all. "You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded-with what caution-with what foresight-with what dissimulation I went to work!…Ha!-would a madman have been so wise as this?" He is obviously well aware of his madness but he tries to justify it by saying that he is not mad because he puts so much effort and wisdom into his deeds. It is kind of an ironic statement that he justifies his madness in the wisdom he shows in the insane act itself. This is like a student saying he is not cheating because he had to "do work" to get the plagiarism. There is ironically no "method to the madness" in his argument. After the narrator commits the murder he again tries to justify his present madness. "If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence." Even after the thought of possible murder has left his mind and he has done the...

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