How Does Edgar Allen Poe Create Tension in the Tell Tale Heart

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart, Short story Pages: 5 (2248 words) Published: February 27, 2011
The short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” was written by Edgar Allen Poe in the year 1843.  He was born in America, January 1809 and died shortly after in October 1849. Poe spent most of his life in the United States army and only started writing literacy after his brother had died in the late 1830’s. Poe was one of the first American authors to be recognised in the genre gothic horror or simple horror. Poe’s most recurring themes were views of premature burial and reanimation of the dead in this case the beating of the old mans heart towards the end of the story. Poe’s believed inspiration for writing in this style was after his wife Virginia Clemm died shortly after their marriage. Gothic horror combines the elements of horror and romance into its own style, the style includes different aspects that normally re-occur in the genre; A darkened atmosphere and a rickety old house which gives home to a sinister villain that creates havoc for a certain victim of their choice. In this instance the narrator is the villain wrecked my madness and distress and the victim which is an old man who is wanted dead for his “Evil”  “vulture” eye that torments the narrator .This end with the narrator killing the old man in cold blood which is a usual theme in gothic horrors. An unnamed narrator opens the story by addressing the reader and claiming that he is nervous but not mad. This automatically makes the reader feel a gradual build in tension and by unnaming the narrator it dehumanises him which makes the reader feel no human compassion towards. He says that he is going to tell a story in which he will defend his sanity yet confess to having killed an old man. His motivation was not desire for money, but rather a fear of the old man’s pale blue eye. Again, he states that he is not crazy because his calm and fastidious actions, though villainous, are not those of a madman. Every night, he went to the old man’s rom and secretly observed the man sleeping. In the morning, he would behave as if everything were normal. After a week of this, the narrator decides to kill the old man. When the narrator arrives late on the eighth night, though, the old man wakes up and cries out. The narrator remains still, watching the old man as he sits awake and frightened. The narrator understands how frightened the old man is, having also experienced the lonely terrors of the night with the voices he heres through heaven and hell. Soon, the narrator hears a dull pounding that he interprets as the old man’s terrified heartbeat. Worried that a neighbour might hear the loud thumping, he attacks and kills the old man. He then dismembers the body and hides the pieces below the floorboards in the bedroom. He is careful not to leave even a drop of blood on the floor. As he finishes his job, the narrator hears a knock at the street door. The police have arrived, having been called by a neighbour who heard the old man shriek. The narrator is careful to be chatty and to appear normal. He leads the officers all over the house without acting suspiciously. At the height of his bravado, he even brings them into the old man’s bedroom to sit down and talk at the scene of the crime. The policemen do not suspect a thing. The narrator is comfortable until he starts to hear a low thumping sound. He recognises the low sound as the heart of the old man, pounding away beneath the floorboards. He panics, believing that the policemen must also hear the sound and know his act of guilt guilt. Driven mad by the idea he confesses to the crime and shrieks at the men to rip up the floorboards.   The story starts in media res, which means that the story is neither started or ended and it makes the reader feel as if they have already been involved with the plot of a previous storyline. An unnamed narrator is having a one to one conversation with the reader and a link is created between the reader and the narrator as if involved with the story. The narrator abruptly begins to question his own...
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