Tell Tale Heart Critical Analysis Essay, Research Paper
The Tell Tale Heart is a narrative, on the most basic degree, of struggle. There is a mental struggle within the storyteller himself ( presuming the storyteller is male ) . Through obvious hints and statements, Poe alerts the reader to the mental province of the storyteller, which is insanity. The insanity is described as an compulsion ( with the old adult male s oculus ) , which in bend leads to loss of control and finally consequences in force. Ultimately, the storyteller tells his narrative of killing his housemate. Although the storyteller seems to be blatantly insane, and thinks he has freedom from guilt, the feeling of guilt over the slaying is excessively overpowering to bear. The storyteller can non digest it and finally confesses his supposed perfect offense. Peoples tend to believe that insane individuals are beyond the normal kingdom of ground shared by those who are in their right head. This is non so ; guilt is an emotion shared by all worlds. The most brainsick persons are non above the feeling of guilt and the mayhem it causes to the mind. Poe s usage of scene, character, and linguistic communication reveal that even an insane individual feels guilt. Therein lies the subject to The Tell Tale Heart: The emotion of guilt easy, if non finally, clangs through the apparently unbreakable walls of insanity.
On the surface, the physical scene of The Tell Tale Heart is typical of the period and extremely typical of Poe. The storyteller and the old adult male live in an old, dark house: ( for the shutters were close fastened, through fright of robbers ) ( Poe 778 ) . Most of the narrative takes topographic point at dark: And this I did for seven long nights-every dark merely at midnight ( 778 ) . The physical facet is non the most of import constituent of puting for this analysis. More of import are the mental and emotional scenes. This clearly explains the personality of the storyteller. One can presume the storyteller is insane. He freely admits to his hearer that he is -nervous-very, really awfully nervous ( 777 ) . But he so asks, but why will you say that I am huffy? ( 777 ) . He besides admits that, The disease had sharpened my senses ( 777 ) . If non insanity, what disease does he talk of? The ground for his actions was one of the old adult male s eyes: -a pale blue oculus, with a movie over it ( 777 ) . This is easy recognizable to the reader as an oculus with cataract on it. This is nil to haunt over, yet this oculus haunted me twenty-four hours and dark ( 777 ) . Any sane individual would take a physical defect of another with a grain of salt. One statement by the storyteller sums up his mental province: You fancy me huffy. Lunatics know nil. But you should hold seen me ( 777 ) . What he is really stating is: There are lunatics who are clumsy in their actions, but non this lunatic! This is every bit close to a self-admission of insanity as possible. The mental scene is put into topographic point by the storyteller s ain statements. This scene is pure pandemonium get downing in the caput of the slayer and sloping out into the physical universe around him ensuing in an unneeded decease. When the storyteller is explicating the terminal of his narrative to the nameless hearer ( presumptively a prison guard, or a mental wellness practician ) , he states the whipping of the bosom was intolerable on his witting:
I paced the floor to and fro with heavy paces, as if excited by the
observations of the men-but the noise steadily increased I foamed-
I raved-I swore! the noise arose over all and continually increased.
It grew louder-louder-louder! They heard! -they suspected! -they
knew! I felt I must shout or decease! ( 780 ) .
The storyteller proceeded to acknowledge his violent death of the old adult male. Obviously, his mental province was one of pure fright and disenchantment. An audile hallucination of a dead bosom whipping caused so much mental torment in the storyteller that it made him squeal to the offense. This so shows insanity. Yet this insanity was non every bit strong as the guilt forcing through it.
Another component that supports the subject is character. Poe ne’er provinces if the storyteller is male or female. The reader by and large assumes that the storyteller is male. A statement like would a lunatic be so wise as this? ( 777 ) supports this premise. The storyteller is obsessed with the old adult male s oculus: I think it was his oculus! Yes, it was this! Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold ; I made up my head up to take the life of the old adult male ( 777 ) . Anyone who decides to kill person because their oculus looks unusual to them is clearly mentally unstable. His methodic ways of watching the old adult male slumber are besides unusual: It took me an hr to put my whole caput within the gap so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Hour angle! -would a lunatic have been so wise as thi
s? ( 777 ) . Under the fortunes, a lunatic would certainly be every bit wise as that. Merely a lunatic would trouble oneself to look at an old adult male slumber when it is his oculus that torments him: And I did this for seven long nights-every dark merely at midnight-but found the oculus ever closed ; and so it was impossible to make the work ; for it was non the old adult male who vexed me, but his Evil Eye ( 778 ) . Why would a sane individual fuss to make such a worthless undertaking for eight darks in a row? The reply is: A sane individual would non execute this undertaking. Even though the storyteller was insane he expresses some kind of compassion in the statement: I knew how the old adult male felt, and pitied him, ( 778 ) . He so solidified his insanity by completing the statement with, although I chuckled at bosom ( 778 ) . In his confession of the station slaying actions taken, the storyteller states to his hearer,
If you still believe me huffy, you will believe so no longer when I describe
the wise safeguards I took for the privacy of the organic structure First of
all I dismembered the cadaver. I cut off the caput and the weaponries and the
legs ( 779 ) .
This statement was, in his head, uncluttering him of any possible connexions of insanity. Would an insane adult male take the necessary actions to avoid acquiring caught? Unfortunately, for him, the reply is yes. There is no concealing his insanity. The storyteller thought his unagitated demeanour had fooled the officers called to his house to look into: My mode had convinced them. I was singularly at easiness ( 780 ) , that is until he heard the bosom whipping. However, there was no bosom crushing. Any sane individual knows that a dead bosom does non crush: I found that the noise was non within my ears ( 780 ) . The sound was in his ears, and more so in his caput. The sound of the beating bosom was guilt strike harding on his door doing him more mental torment. After cussing, reasoning and transporting on violently, the storyteller genuinely believed the officers knew of his guilt. They were unmindful of his torture speaking to each other: -they were doing a jeer of my horror! -this I thought, and this I think ( 780 ) . The storyteller admits here of his insanity ( and later his guilt ) at the clip of the confrontation, and at the clip of his re-telling of the history.
The linguistic communication used by the storyteller in the narrative shows marks of insanity every bit good as guilt. He uses repeat of give voicing frequently. Peoples with mental and/or psychological jobs sometimes repeat words or phrases. When speech production of a lantern s province of darkness he says it was, closed, closed, so that no light shone out, ( 777 ) . On traveling the lantern, he did it slowly-very, really easy ( 777 ) . When he was ready to clamber the visible radiation he undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously-cautiously ( 777 ) . Again in explicating the lantern, I resolved to open a little-a really, really small cranny in the lantern.-you can non conceive of how stealthily, stealthily ( 778 ) . When he eventually did acquire a expression at the oculus, repeat was once more used: It was open-wide, broad open-and I grew ferocious as I gazed upon it ( 779 ) . When the storyteller speaks of the adult male s unrecorded bosom whipping he says, It grew quicker and quicker and louder and louder louder, I say, louder every minute! But the whipping grew louder, louder! ( 779 ) . When speaking of the onslaught on the adult male the storyteller repeats once more: He shrieked once-once merely Yes he was rock, rock dead He was stone dead ( 779 ) . The storytellers linguistic communication is non better used to depict insanity and guilt than in the undermentioned transitions when he feels as though he is caught:
Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those
hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must shout or decease! -and
now-again! -hark! louder! louder! louder! louder! – Villains! I
shrieked, dissemble no more! I admit the title! & # 8211 ; rupture up the boards!
-here, here! – it is the whipping of his horrid bosom! ( 780 ) .
These concluding two lines in the narrative attractively show how linguistic communication was used to demo insanity being overturned by guilt.
Three elements of literary work that genuinely sum up the subject of The Tell Tale Heart are puting, character, and linguistic communication. Through these elements we can easy see how guilt, an emotion, can be more powerful than insanity. Even the most brainsick felon has feelings of guilt, if non remorse, for what he has done. This is shown finely in Poe s composing. All three elements were used to their extreme to convey the subject. The balance of the elements is such that some flow into others. It is sometimes difficult to separate one from another. Poe s use of these elements shows his command non merely over the pen, but over the head as good.