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Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Themes, & "The Tell Tale Heart"

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by Christiane Williams on 3 December 2013

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Transcript of Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Themes, & "The Tell Tale Heart"

Edgar Allan Poe
Life & Themes
THEMES:
STYLES:
Poe's life
* Torture

* Revenge
* Eerie settings
* Women victims
* Women as victims
* the CREEEEEPY settings!
* acute senses
* the hiding of bodies
* narrator...INSANE?
* revenge
* torture
* lost love
* gothic
* dark romanticism genre
* sinister
"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary."
Born to Elizabeth Arnold Poe & David Poe, Jr..
Poe attended the University of Virginia, but
Mr. Allan had not given him enough money to pay for tuition.
So Poe took up gambling to raise money for school, accumulating a $2,000 debt which Mr. Allan refused to help him pay off.
Poe left college, poor, and returned to Richmond.
He began writing poetry, which earned him little money, and later enlisted in the army.
He reconciled with Mr. Allan, briefly after Mrs. Allan died, and Poe went on to attend West Point Academy...
he was later thrown out of the academy because he refused to attend college or chapel.
Poe wrote poetry (like "The Raven"), worked as an editor for magazines, and wrote short stories (like "Murders in the Rue Morgue").
He married his fourteen year old cousin, Virginia Clemm, but they never had children. In fact, many people say they were more like brother and sister.
When Poe's foster father, Mr. Allan, died, he left Poe nothing.
Allan did, however, leave money to his own illegitimate child whom he had never meet.
Poe's life was tragic:
His parents died when he was three.
His foster father never approved of his writing.
Poe's writing earned him very little money during his lifetime.
His first fiancee married another man.
Poe lost his mother, brother, foster mother, and wife to tuberculosis.
Most well known work = a poem called "The Raven"
The circumstances surrounding his death were mysterious:
While working in Philadelphia to raise money for his new magazine, the Stylus, he stopped by Baltimore and disappeared for five days.
When he was found on October 3, 1849, he was delirious, in tattered clothes, and worn out shoes. Some same he was drunk, others that he had lost his mind.
Still unconcious, he died four days later at the age of forty.
Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston.
Both parent were traveling actors.
Family was dirt poor.
By 1811, his father abandoned the family.
His mother was left to raise Poe, his brother Henry, and sister Rosalie alone.
At the age of three, Poe's mother died of tuberculosis.
News arrived that Poe's father had also died of tuberculosis a few days later.
All three children were split up.
Edgar was taken in, and raised, by John and Frances Allan in Richmond, Virginia.
The Allan's were wealthy tobacco merchants.
As a child, Poe wrote poetry and listened to stories from the house slaves.
The couple never formally adopted Poe. because John Allan thought Edgar was an ungrateful punk.
"The Tell Tale Heart" Vocabulary:
Foresight: Thoughtful regard for the future
Dissimulation: Hidden under a false appearance
Vexed: Troubled, distressed, caused agitation
Sagacity: Sound judgement
Hearkening Giving careful attention
Awe: A mixed feeling of reverence, fear, and wonder
Distinctness: Unmistakable, clearly defined
Over-acuteness: Very keen
Concealment: A means of hiding
Waned: To grow gradually less
Scantlings: Small quantities or amounts
Suavity: Gracefulness, politeness
Bade: Urged, compelled
Audacity: Bold courage, daring
Reposed: To lay at rest
Derision: Contempt, ridicule
“I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die-”
“I smiled,- for what had I to fear?”
“Yes, he was stone, stone, dead.”
“It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.”
“All in vain; Death, in approaching him, had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim.”
“Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror.”
“Madmen know nothing.”
“I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth.”
Are there examples of irony in the story? If so, what are they?

The story is told from whih point of view?

What is the conflict in “The Tell Tale Heart”? Is internal or external?

What is revealed to the reader through the character’s thoughts? Feelings? Speech? Actions?
Finish reading the story, pp. (middle of) 253-256

Why does the narrator dispose of the body in that manner?

What factors lead to the narrator confessing the crime to the police officers?

Imagine you were one of the officers, would you take the same approach they took? Why?
Read pp. (bottom of) 251-(top of) 253
Why did the narrator want to kill the old man intially?

Why do you think the narrator paused before he
killed the old man?

What causes the narrator anxiety? Is it real or
imagined?
Read silently pp. 248-249 (stop just before the box). Then, talk with your group.

From what point of view is this story written?

Who is telling the story?

What is the narrator’s tone?

What is the narrator’s plan? Why is he planning this?
“True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am!”
What did you think of the story?

“The Tell-Tale Heart” was first published in 1843. What do you think the people’s reaction was to this type of story? Is it different from today? Why?

What do you know about Edgar Allan Poe? What experiences in Poe’s life might have impacted his writing? What else did he write?

Why is the story called “The Tell-Tale Heart”?
Continue reading pp. (middle of) 249-(middle of) 251

What has happened on the first seven nights?

What is happening on the eighth night?

Prediction: What is going to happen next?
While the narrator says he is not crazy, he describes a murder he has plotted and carried out. He lives with an old man whose eye is covered with a blue haze. The old man’s eye begins to drive the narrator crazy, so he decides to kill the old man. While the old man sleeps, he visits the old man’s room for seven nights. On the eighth night, he kills the old man because he fears the loudness of the old man’s beating heart. Then he hides the body under the floor. When the police come to investigate, the narrator is sure they will find nothing. As he talks to the police, he once again hears the heart beating. Will the body be discovered? Will the narrator get away with the crime?
Read to find the mood and tone.

Visualize the scenes in the story.

Predict what will happen as you read.
1. Those who commit murder must be insane.
2. People who are insane are aware that they
are insane.
3. Only insane people hear or see things that are
not there.
4. If one commits a major crime, he/she will
eventually feel so guilty that he/she will confess.
5. All who commit a crime worry
about being caught.
Edgar Allan Poe’s
Based on the quotes that you just read, describe the story that we are about to read.

What do you think the mood (feeling) of the story will be? What clues lead you to this assumption?
by: Christiane Williams
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