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Themes in Edgar Allen Poe; The Tales from the Tell Tale Heart

Reviews Poe use of language and plot themes, in the Tell Tale Heart in relation to Poes other stories

Zackariah Gonzales
English 11, Period 4
Dark Romantics Paper

Themes in The Tell-Tale Heart
By: Edgar Allen Poe

Poe uses many different thematical elements in The Tell-Tale Heart, but they all
relate back to one central theme- denial. Poe uses some very clever language throughout the plot to make the reader assume that the character is articulating himself to prove that he is not mad.
In the first paragraph, the first line is " True! nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but will you say that I am mad?" Poe clearly states that the character is in plain, open denial. He seems to be in an intrapersonal war, with not only himself but the reader as well. Open delusions of reality are repeated through out the plot. Given the presupposed knowledge the reader has about Poe, it poses a question, is Poe introverted himself into the story as the character?
The following are just a few examples of the character reassuring himself. " In the enthusiasm of my confidence;" " in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph..." "my manner has convinced them." Poe cleverly uses picturesque wording to make the character seems to be in confidence; however, in reality the character is just furthering the burial of the truth. A perfect outwardly expression of this destructive behavior, is thee aforementioned examples in this paragraph.
Poe attempts to convince the reader that the character is not mad, by letting the reader explore the characters thoughts and feelings. What is the character thinking? Why is he killing the man? Why does the eye drive him mad? These are just a few thoughts Poe lets us in on; however, it not only proves that the character vainly attempted to prove to the reader that he is not mad, but rather boosted the conviction of the reader that he is mad.
Forthwith, Poe lets the reader in a little too far, the reader can get a since of the characters' conscience. The fact that the reader questions if the character has feelings, are one could say dissipated in the first paragraph. The character has an outwardly expression of masculinity and emotions that rival that of steel. However, on the inside, Poe lets us feel emotionally attached, per say, to the character and his inter struggle with this eye. Nevertheless, does that character know right from wrong? If the character is truly mentally unstable the answer would be no, but Poe never elaborates enough to make a safe assumption. One gets the feeling that, the character is soul searching himself, questioning his own competence, ability to reason and asking the crucial question: Does the eye bother him enough to grant the taking of a life?
The story is introduced in the state of mental chaos for the character, the reader never gets a chance to see if the character is mad, or had been driven to that element, because of the eye. This whole story evolved around this eye. A seeming miniscule part of the body, but apparently enough to drive him deranged. Was the character always this unstable or is this a new element. If Poe really did want the reader to achieve satisfaction, that the character is not an exasperated lunatic. He should have started the story with the character in his normal state of mind, and elaborated more on the introspective side, not the outwardly expression. Poe neglectfully and possibly intentionally did this to confuse the reader and add that fifth element if you will.
Poe was a genius, in the art of manipulation. This was clearly expressed in this short story. He branched one theme, denial, in so many directions; one could easily be confused and accept the fact that the character is not mad. Consequently, Poe made the character transparent, in a metaphorical since, so the few readers that got through all the layers of denial, written in so many ways, they could truly understand the character. Not as a character, but as a person, his struggles, triumphs and tragedies, and overall place in humanity. It is as if Poe did not want any one to unlock the cryptology of his exuberant character and assume the obvious. But to those who understood, Poe is more than a horror story writer, he is a man that puts a little more of his soul into each story, unlocking the mystery is part of the great challenge, understanding Poe.

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