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Poe And His Depictions Of Madness

1442 words - 6 pages

Rachael BakerA Murderer's Mind: Poe's tales of MadnessEdgar Allan Poe is known as one of the masters of gothic literature, often times using murder and insanity as themes in his short stories. His stories put you into a mindset that you would probably never experience and could also leave you wanting to keep a light on at night. With further examination of many of his tales you can find similarities and also differences in the way he portrays human evil. Narrowing down the focus to just "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Black Cat" it is found that they have similar themes of madness and murder but there are also differences in the way that they are presented.These two stories are similar in many ways, some more obvious and some that you have to dig a little deeper to find. Let's begin with some of the more obvious similarities, both stories are told from the mind of the murderer and presented in a flashback. Both narrators start off with the adamant fact that they are not mad. In "The Tell-Tale Heart" the narrator says "How, then, am I mad? ... Observe how healthily-how calmly I can tell you the whole story." He believes that since he planned out and organized his murder in such a way that there is no way that he could be mad. In "The Black Cat" the narrator begins by saying "I neither expect nor solicit belief … Yet, mad I am not" It seems as if he is trying to make sense of the events that happened but he has already ruled out the fact that he could be mad. Another similar characteristic between the two narrators is that they both kill someone that they claim to love. The narrator in "Tell-Tale" states that "I loved the old man … For his gold I had no desire." So he purely kills a man that he cares about for the mere fact of his appearance. Whereas the narrator of "The Black Cat" talks about his cat saying "Pluto … was my favorite pet and playmate" but throughout the dissolution of his character he starts taking anger out on all the things he used to love.Another similarity between the two tales are the use of the supernatural and the similar theme of the eye. Both stories seem to have the possibility of some supernatural occurrences, in "Tell-Tale" the heartbeat could be seen as supernatural because the police officers hear nothing while the narrator is panicking over the increased and rapid beat of the "hideous heart". Whereas "The Black Cat" leaves the question as to whether the second cat is a supernatural being. It has all the qualities of Pluto even the missing eye, the only difference is the white spot which slowly forms into the shape of the gallows which reminds the narrator of the evil deed he had committed. An occurring theme in both is the involvement of the eye, In "Tell-Tale" the narrator is obsessed with the old man's eye and in "The Black Cat" the narrator cuts the cats eyeball out. This theme of the eye may have something to do with the narrators not liking the way they are seen by others or not liking who...

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