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Research Paper on Edgar Allan Poe Essay Sample

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Research Paper on Edgar Allan Poe Essay Sample

There are many great authors in short story literature who present many different styles and characteristics of writing to make the reader more interested and have a better understanding of their work. One author in particular who usually uses a specific dark, evil, or psychotically unstable type style in his stories in Edgar Allan Poe. In particular one of his stores, “The Tell-Tale Heart” there are many characteristics for someone who is interested in the workings of the human mind. While reading the story Poe breaks down the mind and shows how paranoia and insanity can go hand in hand. He uses his words productively in the story to display paranoia and intellectual decent. He lessens the story of overkill features as a method to intensify the killer’s fixation with precise and unembellished entities such as the old man’s eye, the heartbeat, and his own declaration of sanity.

The old man’s eye in the story is fixated with insanity by the killers fear and total distaste for it. His infatuation with the old man’s eye brings the killer to his end as he is overcome with an inner clash between conversions from self-assurance to guiltiness. The eye is described as blue with a type of veil covering it, which symbolizes the character having trouble with their inner vision or their outlook on the outside world.

Anna Nesbit explains, “That some critics consider the eye to have a double meaning, as the “external eye” of the old man is seen in contrast to the internal “I” of the narrator. The eye can also be represented as the essence of the old man because the killer can hold a type of power that prevents him from hiding his secret wrong doings. The Eye is the overall reason for the killing of the man in the story and Kenneth Silverman says, “Because there is Evans 2 something unseeing about it, when we look at someone “eye to eye” we feel in touch with the person but this eye is blocked, filmed over. (Poe’s Major Tales page 31.)

The next object that is used in the story that symbolizes the narrator’s paranoia is the heart. In most stories traditionally the heart is used to symbolize an individual’s center of emotion. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” it symbolizes the killers guilt. The narrator sets out to rid his life of the horror he made by fixating over the old man’s eye, but as soon as that terror is shattered, a new fear – that of the heartbeat – is generated and becomes more devastating than the original. While playing mind games, wanting to see how much he can push himself to prove his sanity, the narrator slips further and further away from reality. His supreme confidence in killing the man then turns into overwhelming guilt while he continues to try and justify to himself the need for the savage killing.

The narrator’s insanity and paranoia are described well by Suzanne Dewsbury who suggests, “Although the narrator takes pride in his calm comportment toward the officers as they sit directly above the hiding place of the deal old man’s body, he discerns a noise, “a low, dull, quick sound” that he identifies as the heartbeat of the old man. “The narrator hears the heartbeat before even killing the old man and again when the police are investigating after the man is dead. This again shows not only the character’s guilt for the act, but his obvious insanity because he cannot distinguish between the dead old man’s heartbeat and his own.

Probably the most important characteristic of the story, and the most obvious, is the narrator’s insanity and his insistence that he is not mad. According to Kenneth Silverman, “He does make perfectly clear what madness is. It is the inability to  communicate. His proof of his sanity will therefore be his ability to “tell… the whole story” [emphasis]-the verb is crucial-“healthily” and “calmly”. Sanity is evaluated in the characters mind with telling tales. He invites us to gauge how healthily and calmly he can recount the story of the murder (Poe’s Major Tales pg. 30-31)…” This saying is that the narrator thinks he knows what is to be mad, but he does not think at all that he himself is insane.

His rationality is that since he is able to remember and say every aspect of the incidents that took place proves, to him at least, that he is not insane. He deems that he is sane because of the way in which he went through the crime of murdering another human being. He believes his reasoning for wanting the old man dead is without motive so it is okay. This shows how the killer through his psychotic personality tries to constantly give logical explanation for his illogical acts. His insanity is obvious to the reader though by reasons such as his expressed love for the old man, his reason for killing him, his constant recounting the details of the crime, and his paranoia and guilt that ultimately brings the story to a close by his confession of the crime to the police officers.

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most talented writers to have ever lived and one of the best if not the best American horror storytellers. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is renowned as one of Edgar Allan Poe’s strangest, most mysterious, and mentally interesting stories he ever wrote. Suzanne Dewsbury states, “Poe’s preoccupations with death, with madness, and with troubled human relationships all find their culmination in this brief narrative.”

Furthermore, the objects he uses like the old man’s filmed and disturbing eye, the guilty conscience heartbeat, and the killers sanity with the obsession over these things display the mental instability Poe uses constantly in a number of his stories. In summary,  “The Tell-Tale Heart’s” use of symbolism mixed with Poe’s dark style of writing makes the story that much more interesting and entertaining to read.

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