Atmosphere of the Tell-Tale Heart: Analysis of Gothic Fiction

Topics: The Tell-Tale Heart, Gothic fiction, Stephen Daldry Pages: 2 (693 words) Published: February 26, 2014
Discuss atmosphere of “The Tell-Tale Heart”
The story “The Tell-Tale Heart” is well known as a classic of Gothic fiction genre. It incorporates a mysterious and suspenseful atmosphere and overwrought emotions, however, the story does not create suspense and tension straight away. It builds a mysterious, horrific atmosphere and creates suspense with the use of first-person, vivid imagery and the change pace.

The use of the first person in this story greatly contributes to the creation of suspense and a dark mood. In the story, the unnamed narrator tells his own story. The story uses this technique to make the reader feel closer and more involved in the plot. In the beginning, the narrator says, “TRUE!-NERVOUS--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am!” which enables the reader to feel the narrator’s nervousness. The narrator continues to stress that he is not mad by the question of “why will you say that I am mad?...I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?”. It makes the reader feel doubtful and ask themselves if the speaker is really mad. The reader begins to try and discover the thoughts of the narrator. With the story unfolding, the reader is drawn into the scary and suspenseful story to see how the narrator commits the crime and to feel how the narrator feels. For example, before the narrator kills the old man, the narrator hears the “hellish tattoo” of the old man’s heart getting louder and louder so that the sound “would be heard by a neighbor!” This description successfully makes the reader grasp the narrator’s feelings of fear and gives them a sense of suspense. Hence, with the use of first-person, the narrator creates a suspenseful, mysterious and horrific atmosphere.

In addition, the story is full of vivid imagery which makes the reader hear and watch what is happening in a scary atmosphere. In order to show the Evil Eye is frightening, the story describes it as “a pale blue eye, with a film over it.” It helps the reader...
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