Gothic Elements in "The Telltale Heart"

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart, Gothic fiction Pages: 3 (1074 words) Published: May 23, 2011
Gothic Elements in the “The Tell Tale Heart”
The classic short story of “The Tell-Tale Heart”, written by one of the all time masters of horror, Edgar Allen Poe, has always been used as an excellent example of Gothic fiction. Edgar Allen Poe specialized in the art of gothic writing and wrote many stories that portrayed disturbing events and delved deeply into the minds of its characters. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe revolves the plot around a raving individual who, insisting that he is sane, murders an old man because of his` “vulture eye”. The three main gothic elements that are evident in this story are the unique setting, the theme of death and decay, and the presence of madness. Unlike many other works of gothic fiction, this story does not take place in your typical abandoned monastery, haunted house or ominous castle. The setting is described as a dark and shadowy place (“black as pitch with the thick darkness”), but the story probably takes place in a house located in an urban area instead of an isolated one. We know this because of the neighbors, who are able to hear the old man cry out at night and then proceed to call the police who later show up at the house. Because the house is so vaguely described, the reader is forced to imagine the setting and that makes it all the more frightening. A classic element of gothic fiction typically involves a threatening atmosphere and it is very important that this is not just part of the background, but forms a crucial part of the storyline. Poe does an excellent job of portraying this by demonstrating that true horror is not always found in one’s surroundings, but instead comes from deep within one’s self. The nervous, frantic tone of the story presents the reader with a rather dark, eerie feeling of gloominess and despair. Another archetypal element of gothic writings can be found when one analyzes the pervasive theme of death and decay in this narrative. The theme of death as an obsession is apparent when...
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