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Elements of Horror in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart

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Alex Baumann

on 19 October 2014

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Transcript of Elements of Horror in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allan Poe:
• Born 19. 01. 1809 in Boston, USA
• Adopted at the age of 2
• Boarding School in England
• 1826: University of Virginia
• 1827: Quit school and joined the Army
• 1831: Left the Army and moved to New York
• 1836: Married Virginia Clemm
• 1846: "The Philosophy of Composition"
• 1847: Virginia's death †
• †07. 10. 1849 Mysterious death in Baltimore
Elements of Horror in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"
By Alexandra Baumann
20. October 2014
Edgar Allan Poe:
• Inventor of the modern detective fiction genre
• Notable works: "The Raven", "A Dream within a Dream", "The Fall of the House of Usher"
"The Tell-Tale Heart":
• First published in "The Pioneer" in
• Revised and published in the
August 23, 1845 issue of "Broadway
• American Romantic Movement
• Dark Romanticism genre
• Gothic genre
Rising Action
Falling Action
• The narrator commits the murder
• Story begins in "medias res"
• Characters introduced:
• The "Old man" (l. 14)
• The Narrator
• Unreliable first-person
narrator, main character
• Seven nights stalking
the victim
• Development of events
on the night of the murder
• Disassembling the corpse
• Police arrive
• Narrator grows
increasingly paranoid

• Narrator confesses
the crime
Elements of Horror:
Elements of Horror:
Elements of Horror:
Elements of Horror:
• Narrator's mental deterioration
• Feels no guilt
• Schizophrenic symptoms
• Repetitively insists that he/she
is not mad

=> Psychological horror

• Literal darkness
• Action takes place during the night
• Midnight
• The murder:
• Carefully plotted and planned
• Committed
• The way the "old man" (l. 14)
is murdered and chopped up

Mystery and the Unknown:
• Why does the narrator strive to rationalize is
irrational behaviour?
• Why does the narrator want to kill the old man so badly?
• Why does the "Old man"(L. 14) not even attempt to fight back?
• Why do they live together?
• In what relation to each other are the characters?
• Who is the narrator addressing?
• Location of the murder
• Closed room => No escape options
• Reader's imagination is aroused by vague
descriptions of the room
Elements of Horror:
"Show, Don't Tell":
• Vague description of the
• Reader's imagination
• Inherited fears
• Reader can picture him-/herself in the situation
Elements of Horror:
"Unity of Effect":
 • Tone, theme, characters,
conflict, plot and setting

=> One effect
• Mysticism and Terror
Wisker, Gina. Horror Fiction: An Introduction. New York: Continuum, 2005. Print.

Shmoop. Shmoop University, 2012. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fbu.univ-ouargla.dz%2Fmaster%2Fpdf%2Fabadli_farida.pdf%3Fidmemoire%3D243>.

Johanus, Marcus. "Horror Geschichte." Marcus Johanus. N.p., 03 July 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <http://marcusjohanus.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/wie-man-eine-verdammt-gute-horror-geschichte-schreibt/>.

Edgar Allan Poe, “Review of Twice-Told Tales” [Text-02], Graham’s Magazine, May 1842, pp. 298-300

Tiffany. "The Tell-Tale Heart - Analysis." LearnHub. Lessons, n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <http://english.learnhub.com/lesson/7043-the-tell-tale-heart-analysis>.
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