Within ‘The tell-tale heart’ the author has to convince the reader that the main character is mad Essay
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In this essay I will give details on the way the fictional character in ‘The tell-tale heart’ portrays his mad man image. The obvious signs of insanity can be; talking to your self, being in denial, being paranoid, hearing voices and seeing strange things. We will also see if these symptoms are similar with the main character in this short story
Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston, Jan. 19, 1809, died Oct. 7, 1849 in Baltimore. He produced some of the most influential work of his time.
His started his road to being well known with the book called Tamerlane (paid for at his own expense). Poe’s parents, David Poe Jr. and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins, were touring actors. They both died before he was 3 years old, and he was taken into the home of John Allan, a merchant in Richmond. His childhood was pretty dull but he did study for 5 years in the University of Virginia, he stayed there for 1 year.
‘Although a good student, he ran up large gambling debts that Allan refused to pay.
Allan prevented his return to the university and broke off Poe’s engagement to Sarah Elmira Royster’ (taken from http://bau2.uibk.ac.at/sg/poe/Bio.html). The genre of this short story is gothic horror. The story is about an unnamed character who murders a man because he has an eye he dislikes. The man eventually gives in and confesses due to the constant noise of a heart beat coming from the dead body. As soon he hears the clocklike sound of the heart beat he starts getting on edge and uneasy, sounding even more crazy as time goes by.
In the opening of the third paragraph he describes freely the way he plans to eradicate of ‘the old man’. He explains his plans with no remorse at all, with absolutely no regrets. He also seems to find the situation amusing. He enters the old mans room every night, he does this so when the time comes there will be no mistakes that could cause a failed opportunity. Every night he adds a new step to entering room so it is rehearsed and easy on the day.
But the time it takes him to complete a single motion gives an insight to how insane he is ‘It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening’, nobody insane enough would consider planning a murder in this way, but he seems to think the opposite ‘would a madman have been as wise this?’ this is a sure sign that he thinks what he’s doing is fine. The night he is about to proceed in murdering the old man he seems to be very pleased with himself, felling triumph full and exited ‘Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers – of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph.’ This proves that to him the idea of killing a human is plausible. He also thinks it funny too ‘I fairly chuckled at the idea’.
The beginning of the story is where he is most in denial and confident that he is not mad or crazy in any way at all. He emphasises the point of him being normal by telling the reader repeatedly that he is not mad ‘but why will you say I am mad?’ by asking this question he has the reader intrigued, I say this because the path is written in the first paragraph, so the reader will not know what’s going on. But once the reader has read this they will surely think that whoever said this is mad, because why else would this question be asked if someone didn’t thinks he was mad.
There is more evidence in the story proving he is mad. For instance, ‘I heard many things in hell’
What normal living beings could hear things in hell, and make this ability (if true) seem like a good thing. Another reason that makes him seem madder is his unrealistic motive, which is an eye. But if he is really that mad then his could possibly just as normal as any other motive, therefore he must be mad otherwise why would this murder have taken place.
The language used in this story is first person. Rhetorical questions are used throughout the short story and also suspense. I’m not exactly sure what the frequent use of the dashes incorporate but I think it’s used repeatedly to give sense of pause a full stop or comma couldn’t bring. Repetition is also frequent. I think the words being repeated increases the effect of the action or thought the man is trying to make the reader visualize. Exclamation marks are also used a lot in a paragraph. I think isn’t such a good idea as this decreases the effect and power of the exclamation mark. Descriptive language and italics are also included amongst the language used.
Poe has done well in creating the un-named characters image of a mad man. He does this by making the character show obvious signs of insanity, but does it with passion and skill. The entire story line is un-predictable and not boring at all, highly interesting. I say this because normally a story about murder would have clever, cunning and experienced murderer. Still the change is still intriguing and good.
I have absolutely no doubt that this man is a mad man as all the evidence proves so. I couldn’t relate to this type of behaviour on any term because I’m not mad, so I wouldn’t be able to understand him or his behaviour. But there is one thing that could seem a reasonable reason for him to go out of his way to kill this old man. ‘Matthew 18:9: if an eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you.’ If he is a true Christian maybe he believes that this man is some type of demon, and so he wants to murder him.