English: Edgar Allan Poe and Tell Tale Heart Essay

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Comparative Essay Edgar Allan Poe was an American poet and writer who is regarded as the master of macabre, focusing on the horror genre with themes of death and insanity being explored throughout his work. “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe are both stories concerning madness and hysteria. Both stories are written from the perspective of a seemingly normal narrator who tries to prove their sanity to the reader. Ironically, in trying to rationalize their actions they prove exactly how mad they are. These similarities can be seen through Poe’s use of murder and irrational behaviour as well as his use of structure and suspense throughout the story. Poe is able to brilliantly use the concept of murder in both stories to show the insanity of the narrators. The murders in both stories have several similarities as well as differences. Both men dissect the murders and explain rationally the precision with which they went about killing their victims in an attempt to seem as sane as possible. In the Tell Tale Heart, the narrator says, “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen Thimi 2 me, You should have seen how wisely I proceeded- with what caution- with what foresight- with what dissimulation I went to work!”( The Tell Tale Heart) The man claims that he should not be considered crazy or mad due to the clever and carefully planned out steps he took to kill the old man in his sleep. In the Black Cat the narrator says “My pets of course were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill used them.”(The Black Cat) The man takes pleasure and pride into speaking of how intelligently he made his animals fell pain and discomfort when they are around him. Poe has the ability to make the reader become immersed in the criminal’s need to justify his actions that they are not affected by the gruesome act that took place. “I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, than no human eye-not even his- could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out- not stain of any kind- not blood spot whatever.”(The Tell Tale Heart) The narrators in the stories by the end of their tale are extremely proud of themselves for the measures they took to dispose of their victims. Ironically, they both become too over confident and lead the police to the very spot where the body is. Both of these stories go beyond murder and dwell into a subconscious mental activity that causes a person to do something insane.

Irrational behaviour is the process of committing an act without the faculty of reason and of mental clarity. In both of Poe’s stories, he clarifies best the capacity of the human mind to observe its own deterioration and the ability of the mind to speak upon its own Thimi 3 destruction without being able to stop its downfall. In the “Tell Tale Heart” the narrator says “I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously. I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights --every night just at midnight --but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.”( The Tell Tale Heart) This initial situation is the narrator’s decision to kill the old man so that the man’s eye will stop looking at the narrator. In “The Black Cat” the man says “ I took from my waistcoat pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket!”(The Black Cat) When Plato annoys the narrator,