Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The tell-tale heart’ and Ray Bradbury’s ‘The fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ Essay
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Compare and contrast the main themes from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘the tell-tale heart’ and Ray Bradbury’s ‘the fruit at the bottom of the bowl’.
The two stories both contain crime, punishment and murder. The two stories both contain two men who become obsessed with either his own or someone else’s body part. They seem very similar but they are actually quite the opposite…
The writers both build up tension in there stories they make this clear by adding something about the item in nearly every line, which makes the reader clear of what is going on.
Ray Bradbury tries to give us a clue in his title what the story is about, before you have read the story the title is not clear but after you have read the story it becomes clearer, the man in the story murders someone and gets obsessed with cleaning, as he wants to get rid of the evidence. The author uses the metaphor ‘the fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ to emphasise that the man is so obsessed with the evidence and what can be seen he has forgotten about the things that are deeper than the surface what the eye can’t see, like the fruit that is at the bottom of the bowl.
In this story we are not given a name, sex or given any kind of information about the character, which is rather strange.
Edgar Allan Poe does the same kind of thing with his title ‘the tell-tale heart’ this as well is not clear to us until we have read the story his title explains what happens when the character is caught he/she breaks down in front of two policemen because of his/her heart, his conscious is telling him what to do and finally the character breaks down. The story is about a mad person ‘…that I am mad’ who is disturbed by one mans eye and can’t take it no longer and eventually murders the man and gets caught when he/she breaks down in front of two officers, but he/she only thinks they have killed the eye but they don’t realise they have killed the man but deep in there heart they know they have done wrong and their conscious gets the better of them.
The fruit at the bottom of the bowl is set at midnight ‘the clock ticked midnight’ and the character who is William Acton becomes obsessed with cleaning as he has killed a man (Huxley) and wants to get purge of the evidence in nearly every line it mentions something about his hands or fingers he is trying to remember what his hands or fingers have touched ‘the fingerprints were every, everywhere!’ at the end of the story it doesn’t tell us if Acton was caught it leaves us to guess what is going to happen to him. As in the tell-tale the character (who we are not told a name or sex) is mad and becomes obsessed with an eye of a man ‘I think it was his eye, yes his eye’ and that’s what causes the murder and we do know that he is caught. They both committed the crime by murder.
We do assume that both the main characters are taken away and given prison sentences but it doesn’t actually tell us this is happening because of the way the stories are set out with the flash backs, the past and present tenses we do not know if the story is being told to us even from a prison cell or if they have already received there punishment it leaves us in suspense to what is going to happen to them or what has happened to them. It does give us an idea that they are already sentenced because they are telling the story in the past presents.
In the tell-tale heart the narrator is telling the story he or she starts to go mad when he mentions the eye and he starts to build up tension when it comes to the end where the character breaks down in front of the two officers the character breaks down because of the heart beaten in his head but I don’t think he does hear this in his head I think it is his conscious telling him to confess to what he has done in the written story they show this by adding a lot of explanation marks because he is breaking down and it is all happening so fast ‘I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt I must scream or die!’
In the two stories the characters choose to kill their victim. In the tell-tale heart the character planned to kill the man he couldn’t take the sight of the eye anymore ‘I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever’ as in the ‘fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ it was done more spontaneously he just ended up having an argument with a man called Huxley and Acton (the main character) ended up strangling Huxley and killing him. Even though the two stories seem very alike they have their differences.
In the ‘fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ the writer uses a range of sentences when he is talking about the past he uses long sentences and in present he uses shorter sentences also the author writes the story after the murder is committed and tells us how the murder is accomplished by using flash backs and includes us into the story when he is talking in the present, which makes the story seem more eerie, as the ‘the tell-tale heart’ is told in a slightly different way it doesn’t use the same style of writing he writes in one format instead of two.
He writes in the first person ‘hearken I and observe how healthily- how calmly I can tell you the whole story’. He starts the beginning of the story talking to the reader which drifts you in to the story because the character is not talking sense ‘I heard all thing in heaven and in earth. I heard many things in hell so how then am I mad?’ and you become confused to what is going on and makes you want to read on to find out what the character is saying and what he is on about?
In the tell-tale heart the character mentions that he has gone mad ‘why will you say then that I am mad?’ he has lost his mind and I think that is punishment enough for him because he has took away someone’s life now he has had his mind taken from him. In the fruit at the bottom of the bowl I don’t think Acton has gone insane he just becomes obsessed with trying to get disposal of the evidence and this is what makes him become obsessive.
I don’t think before the murder either of the characters were mad, maybe the character in the tell-tale heart may have been a bit mentally unstable as it is a bit confusing how he becomes so obsessive over one mans eye but I think that he/she tends to lose their mind after the murder as it has got to him/her a lot. As William Acton also tends to loose his mind towards the end of the story as his hands start to take control ‘but unknown to his eyes, his gloved fingers moved in a little rubbing rhythm on the wall’ and also he starts to talk to himself ‘would u, I would, are you certain, yes’.
I think both stories had a well thought out setting and both themes were superior but even though the stories both contain the same contents (murder, crime and punishment) they seem very similar but they are really quite diverse I didn’t realise that until after I had compared the two stories. The two authors use different styles of writing in their stories. I really enjoyed reading the stories but not as much as comparing them and spotting how much they are unlike.