"Observe how healthily-how calmly I can tell you the whole story."

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“True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?  The disease had sharpened my senses-not destroyed-not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth.  I heard many things in hell.  How, then am I mad?  Hearken! And observe how healthily-how calmly I can tell you the whole story.” -Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart.

                Talk about your strong introduction! I must admit that this very paragraph is what turned me on to horror in the first place.  I love that right from the start you are thrown into the story, and are automatically making your own assumptions/judgments about the narrator.   One also should notice the linguistics that he introduces us to right off from the start. He uses semicolons, commas, and his use of dashes, italics, and strategically worded vocabulary to further the reader’s awareness of the narrator’s ghastly, growing obsession. I also love that he mentions heaven and hell because in a way it correlates to the back and forth motion that represents sanity versus insanity.  For example, we clearly know that the narrator is mad, yet he/she is convinced that she’s/he’s not.  This confusion automatically grabs the reader’s attention and not only adds suspense but foreshadows the narrator’s grisly plot.

                The entire story is based on the obsession of the old man’s vulture-like eye (monomania I believe it’s called).  I thought Poe did a good job by showing the progression to obsessionàparanoiaà and rage, with the only solution being death. My favorite line to prove this would have to be: “Now this is the point.  You fancy me mad.  Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me.  You should have seen how wisely I preceded-with caution-with what foresight-with what dissimulation I went to work!”  It’s as if she/he can’t be mad because she/he used her/his intelligence to plan things out!   Typical serial killer incentive right there if you ask me.

                Being an avid reader of Poe, one of my favorite traits that he uses in his writing is italics. He uses them effectively throughout his works to help strengthen the tone.  I saw this piece performed last year, and when it is read out loud (with the addition of some theatrics) it’s absolutely amazing because no only do you see the narrator plunge into insanity, but you can hear it as well.

                All in all, I think that the narrator’s main flaw was her/his overconfidence.  She claims sanity, yet she dismembers the corpse, placed the remains under the floor, and then directs the police into his room, and places her/his chair right over the remains.  Then to concoct a story to go along with it, only to cry out your guilt in the end?  Sounds like our crazy narrator might have had a conscious (a disturbed one at that) somewhere deep down inside?

                After reading through the piece a couple of times (again!), I realized that my two favorite lines were: “…hellish tattoo of the heart…” and “ And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses.”  What are some of yours?

                I did however have two questions tumbling around in my head that I was wondering if you guys had any insight on.  I believe this particular obsession of one object is called monomania—do you guys know of any other stories where this is the source of the plot?  Also, in one of the lines about halfway through the story, Poe writes, “Yes, he was stone, stone, dead.”  Is this where the phrase stone dead came from?

 

Edgar_Allan_Poe_The_Tell-Tale_Heart_Cover2.jpg--Animated version of Edgar Allan Poe  : if you go o this page and click around on the site under the picture, and download the reel...you can see portions of the movie he's making.  It's really cool.

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edgar-allan-poe.jpg

-Nice pop/art version of him

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4s9V8aQu4c - Animation of the Tell-Tale Heart

http://www.eapoe.org/- The Edgar Allan Poe Society homepage

http://www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/historic/poehouse.php - His House and Museum in Baltimore

http://www.prairieghosts.com/eapoe.html- I heard about this when I went and saw a few of his pieces performed.  I’m not sure if any of it is true, but it’s a pretty creepy mystery none the less!

3 Comments

Karissa said:

Hey Stephanie, I'm actually going to be visiting the Poe Museum on my trip to Baltimore next month. I also have a CD of celebrities reading his work--my favorite is Christopher Walken reading "The Raven." Here's a link to it on YouTube. Enjoy! :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLSmhpwLdEQ

Stephanie said:

Awe, thanks hun! That's so cool :) I'm going to hopefully be heading out there sometime this fall if possible to see everything (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Halloween)! You'll have to let me know if you find/see anything especially cool when you go. Have a blast sweetie! I'm sure it will be great :)

Thank you for the plug on the animated version of The Tell-Tale Heart. I am glad you liked the trailer which can be linked to now directly off the home page http://www.TheTell-TaleHeart.com . The full version of the short if finishing up next month Oct '09.

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