(Questions) The Tell-Tale Heart
Post on 15-Nov-2014
The Tell-Tale Heart Edgar Allan Poe1. The story is told from the point of view of the murderer (1st person), who is a lodger at thehome of a kind, elderly man. However, the narrator soon believes that one of the mans eyes is evil, and resembles an eye of a vulture. Due to this belief, the narrator decides to kill the old man, although the man has never wronged the narrator. The man tries to convince us that he is not mad because he planned the murder so thoroughly and carefully. For a week before the murder, the narrator is the kindest hes ever been to the old man, and, each night, around midnight, the narrator would very slowly poke his head into the old mans room and shine a tiny ray of light onto the mans evil eye. He could not bring himself to murder the old man, however, as the eye was always closed. But on the eighth night, while entering the room, the narrator accidently wakes up the old man. Still edging slowly into the room, not giving up, the narrator finally kills the old man, who lets out a single cry. The narrator leaves no trace of the crime and hides the old mans body underneath the floorboards of the bedroom, which proves a wise precaution as three policemen were sent to investigate a scream heard from the house. The narrator invites them to search all over the house, telling them that the old man was out of the town at the moment and that the scream heard was his own, when waking up from a nightmare. The narrator, after successfully lifting any suspicion off him, invites the policemen to stay a while and to have a rest, and they all talk in the old mans room, with the narrator sitting above the body. They accept and all seems fine, however, the narrator soon starts to hear a repeating sound coming from somewhere close to him, although the policemen seem to not hear it. The narrator starts becoming edgy and worried, also extremely paranoid that the policemen have in fact heard the repeating noise and are just playing with him, mocking his insanity. As a result, after not being able to take the pressure anymore, the narrator leaps up and confesses to the murder, showing them where the body was hidden.
2. The narrator is never named in the story (neither is the old man), as is his sex, location,occupation, or exact relationship with the old man. It is clear from the beginning that the narrator, who is also the murderer, is paranoid as he repeatedly tries convincing us that he is not insane because he planned and executed his plan extremely carefully, but when he does try to convince us, he only serves to further prove his insanity. The narrator seems to suffer from a case of monomania, which is an unhealthy obsession with something, and he also states that he suffers from highly acute senses, which might explain the monomania/obsession with the vulture eye.
1. The first sentence creates suspense as the first word is True! which leaves the readerwondering what the context the word is in. The narrator starts the story by asking us why we judge his sanity, which creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, and we are automatically reading the story for signs of the narrators insanity, thus resulting in a story about the psychological mind-frame of the narrator, rather than the actual murder or investigation itself, as the story focuses more on the narrators mental state, as the situation around him continually changes.
2. Three quotations to do with time going slowly are, It took me an hour to place my whole headwithin the opening, A watchs minute hand moves more quickly than did mine, and, For a whole hour, I did not move a muscle. Two quotes to do with time going fast are, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room, and, but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice.
The reason time is used so frequently in the story is mostly due to the need of showing just how precise, obsessed and calculated the narrator is, as it shows us that, at the same time each night, for eight days, the narrator would very slowly move his head into the old mans bedroom, then slowly direct a tiny ray of light from the lantern into the old mans eye. Then, the pace of the story changes as the narrator murders the old man, but slows down as the old mans heart stops beating, continuing throughout the policemens search of the house. However, the pace quickens once again when the policemen start relaxing in the home and they and the narrator are sitting and talking in the old mans bedroom, as the narrator starts hearing the old mans beating heart once more, this time steadily rising, growing stronger, louder and faster.
3. Three examples of repetition in the story are With what caution -- With what foresight -- Withwhat dissimulation, How stealthily, stealthily, and, Louder! Louder! Louder! Louder!.Edgar Allan Poe uses repetition many more times in the story, and they are used because each use of repetition helps contribute to adding more atmosphere to the story, adding to the suspense and fear that we already feel. When they are used, the story slows down slightly, which makes our anticipation for finding out what happens next grow, and this pulls us further into the story, making us read on. As the story is a 1st person account of the event, thinking solely about its use in the plot, it helps underline how detailed the narrator is in his details and how much he obsessed over the murder.
4.Noise (Quote) Effect on the Reader Reason Why Poe Chose the Noise Poe used this in order to put us in that state of mind, but also to give that sense of impending doom and terror as the narrator silently enters the bedroom. We have all felt this groan ourselves, making the old mans terror more personal to us, so we are drawn in more. This was used in order to quicken the pace of the story, by matching our reading-speed with the rhythm of the sound.
This is commonly associated with haunted or old houses, so we are automatically put in a horror genre frame of mind.
"Groan of mortal terror"
This makes us feel for the old man, and becoming increasingly worried about the narrators intentions. This creates tension for us, as we can feel the storys pace quickening, and so we are drawn in to find out what happens, as we can tell we are nearing an important part of the story. This is used to tell us that the
"Low, dull, quick sound"
Poe uses this to show the
Thomas Wheelernarrator is starting to lose control of his calm demeanour, and as such, we read on to find out if the narrator succeeds in getting away with the old mans murder, even with the added stress on the narrator. "Heavy strides" This shows us that the pressure is still building on the narrators conscience, which makes us wonder even more if he will get away with the murder, although its extremely unlikely at this point.
11AR/11A1increased fear in the narrators voice, as the narrator is under pressure.
Poe uses this in order to show an increase in the amount of pressure on the narrator, but also to represent the heavy weight of the guilt of the murder that the narrator committed.
5. Some of the evil words that Poe uses in his descriptions of various things in the story are,disease, destroyed, hell, haunted, terror, dreadful, shrieked, and, hideous. These words, and the many others that are used throughout the story, have a very powerful effect, both in the story and on the reader. For instance, the first four examples create a strong sense of mental illness, which it seems is something the narrator suffers from. On the other hand, from the readers point of view, the last four words create an atmosphere that is filled with fear and horror, as all four words are words that are not used lightly when describing something. Poe makes the eye sound disgusting by saying, the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it, whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold, Evil Eye, all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, damned spot, that no human eye - not even his. Poe makes the death sound disgusting by describing the scene as having a, dreadful silence. He also goes into some detail about how the corpse was treated after the death, by telling us, first of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs, deposited all between the scantlings, a tub had caught all - ha! ha!.
6. Three parts where the narrator directly speaks to the reader are, but why will you say that Iam mad?, You fancy me mad, and, if still you think me mad. Poe uses this technique in order to make us feel closer and more involved in the story and in the head of the narrator, as we can see how, when he talks directly to the reader, he mostly just states how, contrary to our own belief, he is not insane, but just that he pays a lot of attention to details and is a very calculating person.
7. After watching, and loving, Frasier, the American sitcom about a radio-psychiatrist, and beinggreatly influenced by my dad and his own love of psychology/psychiatry, I have become interested in the psychological side of things, even thinking about studying the subject in college or/and university. So, when reading through The Tell-Tale Heart, I became interested in the narrator himself, and the reason he found the old mans eye so repulsive, eventually driving him to murder.
It is more commonly assumed that the narrator is a man and, since it has been often thought, the man is a servant or son of the old man. As such, the vulture eye represents the parental surveillance and the paternal principles of right and wrong. The murder of the eye, therefore, is a removal of conscience. The eye may also represent secrecy, again playing on the ambiguous lack of detail about the old man or the narrator. Only when the eye is finally found open on the final night, penetrating the veil of secrecy, the murder is carried out. He also states that he suffers from highly acute senses, although it is never revealed if it is true, despite the fact that knowing the answer changes the view of the narrator greatly, as, if he does suffer from it, the repeated noise he was hearing could have been his own heart beating, or death watch beetles, which are referenced in the story and are commonly associated with death, in superstition, and they make a noise similar to a beating heart. Whereas, if he doesnt suffer from the disease, it was only the beating of his own nervous, guilty, heart and/or his own imagination/insanity that led to his downfall.
I felt the story itself, however, doesnt really grip my imagination or grab my attention, although that might just be because this is not the first time Ive read it in school, and Im getting bored of the story, or, more likely the bigger reason, as Ive done this piece of coursework already, although on a different story (Frankenstein). As such, my heart and imagination just doesnt care anymore about the story or as much as I usually would for this coursework, as it seems there is no motive or use for (re-)completing this coursework.
The reason for the fact were doing it twice comes down to one pivotal change in the English class structure that I myself was against as there seemed no apparent need to change the structure, as why replace an already perfectly working idea with a new idea that was just in its beta/ testing stage, as it were. I am of course talking about the idea of separating the boys and girls of 9S (although we would become 10A1) into separate classes (the official reason was trying to teach the boys and girls differently, as we apparently learn in different ways). That meant that, as the classes were now half the size, the two separate-gender classes would be merged with the next class down, 9I. This would be fine, but 9S had already started work on and completed their first draft of the poem-comparison of Cousin Kate and The Seduction, before the boys and girls were separated for year 10. During the first four months of year 10, we completed first drafts of all our coursework, including the coursework which focused on how the writer of a story (Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, in this case) creates and maintains a certain atmosphere and effect in the story (for Frankenstein, it was the tension created in chapter five, along with how Victors disappointment was displayed), with the exception of the ex-9I boys who hadnt started their Cousin Kate/Seduction comparison.
So, after Christmas, when Mrs. Jarvis, the boys English teacher, left on maternity leave, she left us with Miss. Allan, who, under, I presume, Mrs. Jarvis instructions, had us all (both ex-9S and ex-9I boys) start work on the poem-comparison coursework, this time focused on two different views of London, the two poems being, London, by William Blake, and, (Composed Upon) Westminster Bridge, by William Wordsworth. This meant that the people
who had already did that piece of coursework in 9S had to also do this coursework, instead of just working, and, if need be, reworking as many times as possible, on their final draft of their Cousin Kate/Seduction poem-comparison coursework. Now, at the start of year 11, we have been told we are to complete the Frankenstein coursework again, although this time focusing on Edgar Allan Poes The Tell-Tale Heart, and how he keeps the reader in suspense. The reason, apparently, for this same piece of coursework needed to be completed again, is because not everyone completed the Frankenstein coursework, although we have all the same boys in our class now as when we completed the first draft of our Frankenstein coursework back in December.
So, you can see why I might not be very interested or imaginative when it come to The TellTale Heart, especially when I predicted that this sort of thing would happen, where separating the class that were already working well and had already completed a piece of coursework (albeit, first draft), would create problems in the future. Please see my London poemcomparison coursework to see my answer for an alternative plan for going about coursework, while avoiding this, now twice-occurring, situation where half the class, if not more, have already completed a first draft of the coursework we have been told we have to work on.