A Comparison Of The Tell Tale Heart And The Black Cat

1297 words - 5 pages

A Comparison of The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat

Edgar Allan Poe was an American poet and writer who is regarded as a
master of the macabre, focusing on the horror genre with themes of
death and insanity being explored throughout his work. Many traits of
his main characters, such as the alcohol abuse of the protagonist in
The Black Cat are borrowed from his own experiences, with the demons
of drugs and alcohol eventually driving Poe to his death. His stories
in general share the social setting of his own life, which was
east-coast America in the mid-1800s, when at the time the distinct
stoicism of the Victorian era was prevalent and insanity was a taboo
subject - people who displayed an unstable state of mind were locked
away and treated as outcasts. The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat
have many similarities, including these two men who throughtout their
stories attempt to rationalise their respective downfalls , but
instead show how terribly insane they are, letting the reader make
their own observation of their mental disintegration.

The murders in both stories have several similarities as well as
differences. Firstly, both men dissect the murders and explain
rationally the precision with which they went about killing their
victims in an attempt to seem as sane as possible. In The Tell-Tale
Heart, this is the narrator says, "You should have seen how wisely I
preceded - with what caution - with what foresight - with what
dissimulation I went to work!" while in The Black Cat he says "I set
myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of
concealing the body". Their sense of detachment actually lets the
reader see how mentally damaged these individuals are.

Another similarity is that when questioned by the police about the
murders, the over-confidence of both men leads to their downfall. In
The Tell-Tale Heart, we see the narrator describe his change from
perfectly comfortable to extremely nervous as the supposedly "beating
heart" haunts him. He says "Yet the sound increased - a low, dull,
muffled sound - much such a sound a watch makes when enveloped in
cotton" which references how he described the mans heartbeat as he
killed him. Perhaps this was his own heartbeat, because the old man
was obviously lifeless, and we were told at the start of the story how
"dreadfully nervous" the narrator was. His nervousness caused him to
come forward as the perpetrator because he could not handle the
emotional challenge of concealing the body. In The Black Cat, it was
by accident that the body was revealed to the police. The main
character remarks, "this is a very well-constructed house", while
rapping on the wall with a cane, causing the bricks to fall away.
Right up until the revealing of the body, this man displays a stable
state of mind to all around him. Neither...

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