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«A Close Reading of

Edgar Allen Poe has written many literatures that have put a celestial stamp on stories of horror and mystery genre. One of the theses stories is “The Tell-Tale Heart”. The story was first published in the first issue of James Russell Lowell's “The Pioneer” in January 1843. "Tell-Tale Heart" is one of the most famous works of Edgar Allan Poe, this story is considered a classic gothic genre in literature. The story gives space for imagination for the reader. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is one of those stories that grasps and informs the reader that anyone at any giving day can be a murderer. The story also shows that you cannot trust anyone.

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The story is told by the unnamed narrator, who killed the old man that lived with him under the same roof. In his confession killer details the path that led him to the crime and to the subsequent exposure. He accurately calculated everything and one night the man strangled in his room, and then coolly dismembered the corpse and buried the remains under the floorboards, leaving no trace.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator claims that he is not mad, though he is suffering from some illness, which he calls "aggravated feelings". He says that he has particularly sharp hearing, and he could even sometimes "hear the hell." The narrator says that he lived in a house with an old man (probably the owner of the house). They also live with a neighbor in the same house. By narrator’s words, he was good to the owner of the house, he liked him, and never wanted to take possession of his wealth, but because of pale, deathly blue, old man's blind "vulture eye" narrator decided to kill him.

Killer prepared long and carefully. For a week, at the same time he opened the door to the room and watched when the old man fell asleep. n the eighth night, he killed the man.

Deftly and cold-blooded killer dismembered corpse into five parts and hid them under the floorboards in the room. He acted so skillfully that even the blood should not be washed out: there was no trace.

Night had come to the end, and then the three policemen came to the house. The neighbor heard screaming and called them. Killer acted calmly: he said that he cried out in his sleep, and the old man was out of town. The police believed him, but still, visited the house. The killer took them through all the rooms, and in one room, where the corpse was hidden, they settled for a casual conversation. It seemed that the danger was over, but then again the killer said that he heard the heartbeat of his victim under the floorboards. Knocking grew and was so distinct and loud that the killer thought that the police also could hear it. Trying to distract them and muffle the sound, he began to speak louder, then scream, pouring curses, knocking furniture. Being sure that the police guessed that he had murdered the man, the killer confessed to the crime.

Most of the story is written in first person’s point of view, because the narrator is guiding the reader through the whole ordeal. It is more like putting the reader inside the narrator’s shoes.  When the narrator says, “you fancy me mad”, it feels like if the narrator is directly talking to the reader. Even though the reader in the first paragraph develops a sense that the narrator is insane, he or she is still asked to try to convince that he is not insane. The narrator explains to the reader in detail step by step in how he went about killing the old man by explaining the use of the lantern to navigate through the bedroom, and how he used the light of the lantern to blind the old man before taking his life. Once agaain he tries to deny he is insane. The story that is told by murder is an apology rather than a confession. Murder at all costs tries to prove that a terrible crime was committed deliberately, in a state of full consciousness of the actions and intentions, without any admixture of temporary or permanent insanity.

 The ending of the story was very clear. That information was given to the reader in the title of the story “The Tell-Tale Heart”. When the officers came in to see what was going on in the house, the narrator could not bear the guilt and pain he had tattooed in his soul from murdering the old man. This is the heart he hears beating in his head.  His guilty consciousness is driving him insane. He could not live with the guilt. So he ripped up the planks and told on himself like a tattle tale. His guilty consciousness was the heart he heard not the old man’s.

The driving force of the story is not the perpetrator’s assertion that he is innocent but the assurances that he is sane, that he is not mad. The killer does not even notice that through this he actually admits the guilt. This, in its turn, raises doubts in his adequacy, as he tries to prove the most essential for himself at this moment. He does not clearly understand what he has done. He can not evaluate the offense. He wrongly sets priorities. He argues that the denial of his madness is a sequence of systematic, well thought out and accurate actions.

This story by Edgar Allan Poe is extremely minimalistic. The author cuts off all the excess and leaves only what is needed to present the essence of the story. From the beginning, every word of novel serves to one purpose to intensify the advance of the plot. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a good example of an embodiment of Poe's theory about how to write short stories.

 

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