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The Tell-Tale Heart
Transcript of The Tell-Tale Heart
Poe was one of the earliest practitioners of the short story
Considered the inventor of detective fiction and a great contributor to science fiction
He was the first writer to try and make a living out of being JUST a writer
His mother died at a young age and then his father abandoned the family. He was taken in by a foster type family (Allan).
He married his 13 yr. old cousin, Virginia Clemm in 1835. Plot Introduced to the narrator who insists he is not insane, only plagued by nervousness.
Introduced to the man with the vulture-like eye. The narrator wants to kill the man because he feels he is haunted by his vulture-like, evil eye. The narrator attempts to kill the man while the man is sleeping, but he cannot bring himself to kill him when the eye is closed.
"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" (pg. 2). On the eighth night the narrator finally killed the man with the vulture-like eye.
"In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done" (pg. 4). The man was dead and the narrator buried him under the floorboards of the man's own bedroom, confident that no one would discover what he had done.
"I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye-not even his-could have detected anything wrong" (pg.5).
Officers came to his door to inspect the premises as someone heard a shriek from the house during the night. The narrator is once again plagued by his "nervousness".
There is a ringing in his ears, but: "I found that the noise was not within my ears" (pg. 6).
Guilt over came him as he imagined he, and the officers could hear the heart of the old man beating underneath the floorboards.
He admits his deed in a panic.
["Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed!--tear up the planks!--here, here!--it is the beating of his hideous heart!" (pg. 6)]. Point of View The Tell-Tale Heart is a first person narrative told by an unnamed narrator.
First person narrative is when a character in the story can only reveal their own personal thoughts and feelings. Is the narrator a reliable character or an unreliable character? Reliable: A reliable narrator is one who has a credible, authoritative voice. Unreliable: An unreliable narrator is one whose credibility has been seriously compromised. "True!--Nervous--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?" This disease has 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" (pg.1) "Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded--with caution--with foresight--with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him" (pg. 2) Characters Protagonist: The protagonist of The Tell-Tale Heart is in fact the narrator. The plot of the short story revolves around his character, and despite the fact that he is not a "good guy" he is still the protagonist. Antagonist: The antagonist of The Tell-Tale Heart is the man with the vulture-like eye. He is not necessarily the "bad guy" but he is--in a way-- working against the protagonist in the short story. Protagonist Dynamic: The narrator goes through a significant change. He kills the man and covers up his deed with precision and little remorse. He is then plagued by his own guilt; imagining that the man's heart is still beating from beneath the floor boards.
Round: The narrator can be considered round as his thoughts and inner feelings are VERY thoroughly described throughout the short story
"It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this!" (pg. 1, 2). "Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers--of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph" (pg. 2).
"The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease" (pg. 5). "I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observation of the men--but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed--I raved--I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased" (pg. 6) CHANGE Antagonist Flat: A flat character is one built on stereotypes. The man's stereotype is that he is old and decrepit; therefore, he is disgusting and disturbing to be around in the mind of the narrator. Static: The man remains fundamentally the same. He is just a man, with a vulture-like eye. This is all we know about him. "One of his eyes resembled that 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 this rid myself of the eye forever" (pg. 2). Setting Setting is the place or time of the story. The location where the action happens. Themes & Symbols Guilt: the main theme found in Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart is guilt. The narrator is overcome by his own guilt for killing an innocent man whom he supposedly loved. Insanity: The narrator tries to convince the reader that he is not mad, but the fact that he cannot actually separate the old man from his eye suggests that he is insane. he mentions that he loves the man, but cannot stand his eye and then proceeds to kill him because of his horrid eye... Themes: The eye: The eye is described as "vulture-like". Vultures are scavengers that swoop down upon dead animals and feed off their carcass. They must be ever-present and diligent in order to cease the opportunity of feeding off of a dead animal carcass. The narrator seems to feel that the old man's eye is always watching him. He fears that the eye can see his deepest fears and violent plans. Someone is always watching. The Heart: The heart symbolizes the narrators guilt. The strength of the beating increases as the narrator's guilt heightens. It is as if Poe uses the beating heart to symbolize a clock-ticking; the ticking of time until the narrator is caught for killing the old man. Style Style is how an author uses literary devices to present the story.
Macabre [muh-kah-bruh]: Macabre is the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere. Macabre works heavily to emphasize and utilize symbols of death. Conflict Man vs. Himself The narrator struggles through admitting to the murder of the old man in a very chaotic-psychological manner. His mind brings the dead character back to life as he imagines the extreme beating of the dead man's heart. "No doubt I now grew very pale--but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased--and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound--much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton" (pg. 6).