Edgar Allen Poe once said, “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” There are many breathtaking horror stories, but none of them influenced literature as much as “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Poe uses the character and theme to make “The Tell-Tale Heart” one of his near perfect tales. His works often explored the inner workings of the human mind; in particular its dark side (Bouchard). This story shows the terrible war of superego upon the id, the endless battle between conscience and impulse (Hoffman 226). These struggles, although always in disguise, are constantly enacted on Poe’s work. Poe explored the limits of human reality in stories shaped by both intuitive genius and literary craftsmanship (Howard). In this paper we will analyze how Poe uses the theme and character to make one of the greatest horror stories of all time.
First, to me the story “The Tell-Tale Heart” has several themes which make it really fascinating. The first, and perhaps the most important, is madness. “How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily-how calmly I can tell you the whole story,” (Poe 121). In this sentence at the beginning of the story, he attempts to state that he is not mad. Just from this, we are led to believe that he is mad. By the end of the story when the murderer makes known the facts that he can hear the sounds of heaven and hell, he killed his friend just because of his pale blue eye, and believes that because he was so cautious at hiding and dismembering the body proves he is sane; after all of this we know for sure that he is crazy. Another theme is guilt. The narrator has killed his old friend, whom he loved. Throughout the whole story, he admits to the murder and never tries to give a good logical explanation of why he did it. He doesn’t give a reason for his actions because he feels guilty for doing what he did. Also, the narrator says he understands his victims terror just as he is about to...
Cited: Bouchard, Jennifer. "Literary Contexts In Short Stories: Edgar Allen Poe 's "The Tell Tale Heart." Literary Contexts In Short Stories: Edgar Allen Poe 's 'The Tell Tale Heart ' (2008): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
Hoffman, Daniel. POE POE POE POE POE POE POE . Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1972.
Howard, Ronald W. "The Tell-Tale Heart." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
Nesbitt, Anna Sheets ed. Short Story Criticism . Vol. 34. Farmington Hills: Gale Group, 2000.
Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966.
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