Summary: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell Tale Heart

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell Tale Heart present minds in distress, the state of severe anxiety or strain, which is distinguished through the state of the narrators’s appearance when committing murder and creating a monster; both by choice, however denying the reality of their choices in fear, or distress. Throughout the 19th century novel, Tell Tale Heart, the protagonist is seen to be in a unrelenting appearance of distress towards the old man; more towards the ‘pale blue eye’ he holds.

It is not shared thoroughly why his hatred for the eye is so immersed, however it is claimed that the eye, hypothetically, has aberrant powers, making the narrator’s ‘blood run cold’ that then foretells there will be a further negative occurrence between the two characters.

With the following novel, again in the 19th century, Frankenstein is recognised for Dr Frankenstein’s mind being in distress, pacing through the novel as he journeys with his life and the progression of science and manipulation of human nature; the fight between science and religion - you find Frankenstein’s work of creating not only one monster, but almost a second, was exorbitantly against the norms of a Pre-Victorian society and a huge development of science.

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Furthering not only to Dr Frankenstein’s mind being in distress but also the monster as he finds his way of life, coming to terms that he is not socially accepted in society by the way he is perceived from first glance as you witness on page 137: ‘Who can describe their horror and consternation on beholding me? Agatha fainted, and Safie, unable to attend her friend, rushed out of the cottage.

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’ As the character Delacey was blind, he was unable to judge by looks, unlike the others who were quick to exaggerate their thoughts on the “monster” in front of them, declaring that you are in-fact judged firstly by appearance rather than personality. This thus steering him to perpetrate the act of murder due to the amplified distress of being physically and mentally attacked.

Beginning with the earliest novel, Tell Tale Heart, there is a clear neurotic aura as Poe commences with “nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am;”. To which further speaks of it’s similarity to a disease that is taking control over his body. The exaggerated repetition of ‘nervous’ and ‘very’, amplified by the plosive ‘v’ sound, puts forward the readers depiction that he is in fact, highly distressed in both present and past times, suggesting that he has been ‘distressed’ for quote some time. Therefore the reader begins to question the reason towards the distress of the protagonist. Personally I believe that this could propose that anxiety, or distress, resembles having an uncontrollable disease (as it is said to have taken control over his body) that is experienced to be something that can not be stopped, unless treated with professional help; illustrating to the reader that what is occurring is serious and is considered abnormal. Also, the length of the short story itself suggests that pain and distress is short minded and can be stopped, however consequences of your actions in which you see at the end are long term as we clearly see by the narrator being arrested, willingly due to the distress of a heavy guilty conscience.

You can note the way that the narrators heightened sense of hearing is what drives the narrator to confess his crime. Although the narrator tells us that he managed to convince them that he had no involvement in the disappearance of the old man, he begins to hear something that he cannot ignore: “Oh God! what could I do? I foamed –I raved –I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder –louder –louder”.

Thus hearing this forces the narrator to confess due to being unable to ignore the loudening sound of his own guilt and crime. The emphasis of the tone and repetition of ‘louder’ allows the reader to truly feel his guilt, the plosive ‘d’ sounds symbolising the beats of a heart, targeting the reader in their own mind, putting them on edge with nerves as they continue to read on. Furthermore the narrator's inability to tell the story 'calmly' suggests his lunacy.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Summary: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell Tale Heart. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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