Wide Reading – The tell tale heart

“I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad?”

The Tell Tale Heart is a gothic fiction short story written by Edgar Ellen-Poe, we are told the story about a man and his intense obsession with what he sees in another mans eye. During the story the man stalks the old man by watching him in his room as he’s obsess with the idea that the old mans eye is ‘evil’, he states that he had a eye of a vulture. The man is fixated with the idea that the old man is giving him an evil eye and that it is cursed, he says he loves the old man it was just his eye that he dreaded so very much. He ends up killing the old man just because of his eye, this tells me that the man is obviously insane and clearly over the top about his emotions. I believe that the main character in this story shows strong emotional responses and this is the element I will be discussing in this report. There are features that are used in common gothic fiction, and there are three that are used throughout this text. The story shows tension and foreshadowing, it also represents the characters contrasting actions/qualities, the man in this short story follows his emotions instead of what is right.

First of in this story we straight away notice how the man allows his emotions to exaggerate and take over. At the beginning of the story the man goes on about how he is not mad (as said in the quote above), he is trying to persuade everyone that he is not mad when he clearly is and he is making it worse. He’s states that “a madman does not plan” when he clearly is planning his actions through out the text, foreshadowing that he going to do something terrible. He is arguing with the unknown, trying to convince us the opposite to something that is very obvious, this makes him seem insane. He lets his emotions over ride what is right by going to the old mans house every night which is not normal. Once he kills the old man he then hides the dead body under the floor boards, he says that he cuts the body up into little pieces and places them carefully under the house. During this part he is saying that he is not mad because he hid him so carefully, not letting any blood drip so no-one could find it.

While I read this it makes me feel like the man is even more insane than at the beginning of the story, I feel that I or any other person with a healthy mindset, could not of think of these horrid thoughts and only someone who is so twisted could even think about doing this. When people do strange things like this in real life society looks down on the person, we lock them up and they are pretty much forgotten. We get a sick feeling about killers in real life and I get this feeling when reading this story. 

The atmosphere in this story is very tense, there are lots of short sentences and repetition to indicate to us that the man it not well and he is panicing about the eye. Using short sentences makes us think about the last sentence so the whole section is still fresh in our minds, our brains overthink what he has said adding even more tension and horror into the story. The author wants us to get an idea of this abnormal behaviour and make us uncomfortable. The crazy man has peswaded himself that the eye is evil but its all in his disturbed mind, it must relate to his sickness that he goes on about at the beginning of the story. At the beginning he tells us that he has been ill, very ill, but this has not caused him to go crazy it has only made his feelings and his senses stronger. This startles me as he says in the story that he has herd things in heaven and hell, however he does not fear those things, so the tension in the story increases making the reader on edge.

The beginning of the story plays a major part in how the man reacts, from the beginning I felt like something crazy was going to happen as the man describes his illness and his control of his mind. It puts me in an uncomfortable position as you have no idea what is going to happen in the story and just when you think you have an idea about what is happening another strange event happens. I think Edgar used foreshadowing in the beginning of the story to indicate the sense of sanity. The first paragraph told me that the man is unstable if not crazy. The man claims he is not mad yet he wants to kill the old man because his eye bothers him. This certainly foreshadows the narrator as unreliable, hence his eventual mental breakdown.

From the story I feel that I cannot relate to his thoughts and what he feels towards the old man as its very abnormal, at the beginning of the book he states that he loves the old man and he was very nice to him during the days coming up to his death. But then he had a very strange vibe coming from his eye, we as a reader think that the man is absolutely crazy as he is going on about how he hates the mans eye so much but he loves him at the same time. It would have been much easier for him to just avoid the old man or move past his obsession with the ‘evil eye’. His mind must be very disturbed and makes me think about what his past life was like, when I read this story I feel like he is falling deeper and deeper into insanity. His emotions are very extreme and I don’t think any normal person would go though something as intense as this.

Some times in real life we let our emotions dictate our lives and we don’t think about the consequences, Edgar Ellen-Poe defiantly shows us the results in a intense situation when you allow this to happen. He uses tension and foreshadowing to help express the discomfort felt in the story and allow the gothic elements to really shine though. Even though I could not relate to the extremes of this story I feel like everybody allows there emotions to override the correct thing to do in life situations. I believe that Poe wrote this story brilliantly and a lot of gothic elements shone though in this text.

“For it was not the old man I felt I had to kill; it was the eye, his Evil Eye.”





One Comment

  1. Hi Molly,

    Thank you for getting your response in on time to receive feedback.

    You have some moments when you show a great connection to the text and some insight around how or why the author achieves the things they do.

    I would like to see you develop the structure of this response. Organise it into a logical report.

    I would also like to see you develop your analysis of the gothic protagonist characteristic you are discussing. Include more evidence to support this.

    Mrs. P


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