The Tell Tale Heart Analysis

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  1. 1. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe first published in 1843. It is told by an unnamed narrator who endeavors to convince the reader of his sanity, while describing a murder he committed. (The victim was an old man with a filmy "vulture-eye", as the narrator calls it.) The murder is carefully calculated, and the murderer hides the body by dismembering it and hiding it under the floorboards. Ultimately the narrator's guilt manifests itself in the form of the soundpossibly hallucinatoryof the old man's heart still beating under the floorboards.
  2. 2. The Unnamed Narator The Old Man The Neighbor The Three Policemen
  3. 3. The Unnamed Narator A man who is physically and mentally ill, a man who can not differentiate which one is real and which one is unreal. We call the unnamed character as he eventhough Poe did not explain is because the line Madmen know nothing. The line mentioned men and we can holding into that line. He had a mental illness where he heard something unreal and though that was real, he though it was his vision or sixth-sense. He was also the murderer of the old man because he hate to look at the old mans eye. He is also a psycho who can not control his emotion while looking at the old mans eye.
  4. 4. The Old Man The Old Man, whose eyes is blue and hard to look at, is the neighbor of the unnamed narrator. He played a big role in this short story eventhough he was killed at the end of the story. He is somehow kind because in the story told the neighbor care about him, calling the police when they heard a loud noise from his house. He had a trust issue with the unnamed character, because the unnamed character had been acting so nice to him a week before the unnamed character killed him. He closed the door without lock it, it was because he wanted to prove that what he afraid of was real. And the oldman somehow is the madmen in front of the unnamed character. Madmen know nothing, that line explain how the old man do nothing when he knew someone was there looking at him in the dark.
  5. 5. The Neighbor This minor character hold a control of the story because he was the one who called the police because he heard a loud cry in the old mans house. It is represent an on guard personalities. The Three Policemen The three policemen did not show a lot of characterization because they are the minor character but from what we see these three character is between having a trust issue or do not know what to do. The did not leave the place immediately because they did not believe what the unnamed narrator sais or because they do not know what to do.
  6. 6. A House We don't know where the narrator is while he's telling the story of the old man's murder. The story he tells us takes place inside a random old house about which few details are directly given. We are told that the old man keeps his shutters tightly locked. A neighbor hears at least one of the story's two screams. The cops arrive promptly, just after the narrator has hidden the body. As such, the house might be in an urban area, possibly a high-crime one. As to the interior of the house, we only hear about the old man's bedroom, which is the a place where horror plays in the dark while the old man sleeps, completely unaware. The room is all the more scary because it isn't described, because we can't see it. This story taps our fears of the dark, and what the dark might hold. In speech class you probably heard that a majority of people (in America) claim that public speaking is their number one fear. What about the fear of someone in your own house spying on you each night while you sleep, wanting to kill you, and then being totally friendly to you during the day? Even without the murder part, that kicks public speaking in the pants if you ask us. The "ideal" bedroom is supposed to be a fairly private place where we can rest and recuperate without fear. The narrator completely violates the sanctity of the bedroom in this story. The night spying is possibly more terrifying for our imaginations than the murder itself. As with many Poe stories, the landscape of the narrator's mind is also a setting of the story, and it echoes the external or surface setting, the man's bedroom. Just as we are unable to see the bedroom, the narrator is unable to see his own mind.
  7. 7. Horror or Gothic Fiction Horror or Gothic Fiction is one of the easy genres to spot, and also one of the most fun to explore, as long as you don't mind looking at the hard stuff. Snapped minds, crypt-like spaces, actual crypts, death and dismemberment, fear, the extremes of human behavior, a juxtaposition of the "sacred" and the "profane" these are some of the sure signs you're in a Gothic story, or at least a Gothic moment. There are many sub-genres within this genre. In the "supernatural Gothic" supernatural forces (usually connected with the dead and/or the divine) literally cause the scary stuff that happens. In the "explained Gothic" it seems at first like supernatural forces are in play, but, by the end of the story, everything is neatly explained. There's also the "ambiguous Gothic." This is harder to explain, because it's so ambiguous. These stories are open to multiple interpretations, all of which rely on facts outside the story. Nothing in the story really makes sense. We have no "supernatural" or "reasonable" explanation with which to reassure ourselves. "The Tell-Tale Heart" probably falls in category three. It's been over a hundred years since the story was written, and nobody knows precisely what to make of it, in spite of much study. Poe's work is often considered part of the "Southern Gothic" tradition. Stories in this genre deal with anxieties and issues related to slavery in the southern U.S., sometimes in a veiled or hidden way. In her book Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison argues that the work of Poe does just this, pointing to the short story "The Black Cat" (about a guy who kills his cat) as a prime example.
  8. 8. Point of View Most Poe narrators are unreliable first person narrators. This doesn't necessarily mean they don't show up when they say they will, but rather that they either can't or won't tell us what really happened. In this case, the narrator is trying to prove his sanity. One bit of proof he offers is his ability to exercise "dissimulation" (to act or speak one way to mask true feelings or intention) with the old man. So, if he's trying to prove he's sane, and dissimulation is a proof of sanity, doesn't that suggest his probably using the old dissimulation on us, too. The narrator also admits that due to his intensely powerful sense of hearing, "he can hear all things in the heaven and in the earth [and] many things in hell" (1). So, he isn't gripping reality very tightly, due in part to a sick mind, and in another part to a sick body. On occasion, he also pretends to be an omniscient narrator. He tells us how the old man feels and what the old man is thinking. Here's an example: "Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. [] I knew the sound well. Many a night [] it has welled up from my own bosom" (5). As you can see, the narrator's insight into the man's head is just a reflection of his own experience. Yet, he's probably right. In this moment he humanizes both himself and the man through empathy. Unreliable narrators are compelling because they represent a basic aspect of being human. We all experience moments of unreliability, where we can't perceive or remember events accurately. We all get confused and do and say things we don't mean or don't mean to do or say. In a story like "The Tell-Tale Heart," this unreliability is taken to extremes. The scare power in this technique is the nagging knowledge that we could become a person like the narrator, or a victim of a person like the narrator, a person whose inner unreliable narrator has totally taken over.
  9. 9. Initial Situation The narrator wants to show that he is not insane, and offers a story as proof. In that story, the initial situation is the narrator's decision to kill the old man so that the man's eye will stop looking at the narrator. Conflict The narrator goes to the old man's room every night for a week, ready to do the dirty deed. But, the sleeping man won't open his eye. Since the eye, not the man, is the problem, the narrator can't kill him if the offending eye isn't open. Complication This isn't much of a complication. The man has to wake up in order for the narrator to kill him. If the man still wouldn't wake up after months and months of the narrator trying to kill him, now that would be a conflict. Climax The narrator kills the old man with his own bed and then cuts up the body and hides it under the bedroom floor. Suspense The narrator is pretty calm and collected when the police first show up. He gives them the guided tour of the house, and then invites them to hang out with him in the man's bedroom. But, the narrator starts to hear a terrible noise, which gets louder and louder, and Denouement Well, the noise gets even louder, and keeps on getting louder until the narrator can't take it anymore. Thinking it might make the noise stop, the narrator tells the cops to look under the floorboards. Conclusion Up to this moment, the narrator doesn't identify the sound. It's described first as "a ringing," and then as "a low, dull, quick sound much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton" (9). Only in the very last line does the narrator conclude that the sound was "the beating of [the man's] hideous heart!" (10)