The Tell-Tale Heart Essay, Research Paper
“TRUE! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.” This eerie quote is the way Poe decided to start one of his most beloved works, The Tell-Tale Heart. Very few writers in our history have made such an impact as Edgar Allen Poe has. Being the father of the short story and the mystery, Poe was a revolutionary for his time.
Writing such chilling masterpieces as The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat, Poe struck a chord in American literature that combined now classic stories with ominous detail. No author can compare to his natural style of rhythm, his flowing details or his ability to create stunning settings. In this speech
I’ll explain to you, the finer points of Poe’s story, The Tell-Tale Heart, but first, a biographical summary.
Edgar Allen Poe was born to Eliza and David Poe on the 19th of January 1809. Edgar and his brother and sister were orphaned before Edgar’s third birthday and Edgar was taken in to the home of John and Fanny Allan in Richmond, VA. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia. Although a good student he was forced to gamble since John Allan did not provide well enough. Allan refused to pay Poe’s debts and Poe had to leave the University after only one year. In 1827 Poe enlisted in the Army under the name Edgar A. Perry where his quarrels with John Allan continued. Edgar did well in the army but in 1829 he left and decided to apply for a cadetship at West Point.
When the tax was created, only people earning more than $4,000 per year were forced to pay taxes. Time took a simple tax law and changed it into a complex book of rules and regulations. When the laws were first instated, the tax brackets or how much you paid was quite simple:
Poe married his first cousin, Virginia when she was only 13. Over the years, Poe’s drinking habits forced them to move from Baltimore to New York and Philadelphia. In January 1847 Virginia died and Edgar took this very hard but he kept on writing until the day he died in Baltimore October 7, 1849. Even one of his last pieces, “Annabel Lee” was remarkably well written about the death of his wife, on par with the countless other pieces he penned.
In the story, The Tell-Tale Heart, the characters are very few. The narrator, the old man and the police are the only people involved. It is set in over an eight-day period. The narrator, is the caretaker to the old man. The old man is quite wealthy and is not in the best of health. The narrator loves the old man dearly, but cannot stand his eye. “He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
Then, the sound, “such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton” grew louder. He was sure the police suspected something. In a fit of anxiety, he started cursing and throwing furniture, till at last, he confessed, “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! Here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!” After such a chilling story, the symbolism and theme become quite apparent.
A story as old as time itself. The Evil Eye. The evil eye symbolizes a threat to our narrator as in many cultures, specifically Jewish, Hindu and Islamic faiths. In these faiths, steps are taken to protect oneself against harm from the evil eye. It is believed that by merely looking at someone can harm someone or there possessions. To protect oneself from the power of the eye, certain measures can be taken. In Muslim areas, the color blue is painted on the shutters of the houses, and found on beads worn by both children and animals. In the story, The Tell-Tale Heart, the protagonist fears the evil eye. In his mind, the only way to protect himself is to get rid of the eye. The eye symbolizes the internal struggle of power than man must face.
Human nature is a balance of good and evil that is usually maintained. But once that equilibrium is broken, the evilness of a person has the chance to break through and be seen. In this case, the evil eye pushes the narrator over the edge and an irrational fear prevails. The narrator speaks of the disease that has heightened his sentences. The narrator also contends that he has learned a new trait that he cannot accept and use properly. Together, through symbolism and internal conflict Poe created a story that good does not always prevail.
Whether it is “Annabel Lee” or The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allen Poe demonstrated his ability to create short stories and poems of a different nature. Pieces that symbolize the corruption of a person, the loss of a loved one, or the fear a person has, are all presented in Poe’s works. The Tell-Tale Heart tells of ones internal struggle with a heightened sense and their lack of ability to adapt and overcome. A poet, a writer, a literary genius Poe truly shaped American literature for years to come.