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"The Tell-Tale Heart", by Edgar Allen Poe, is what made me fall in love with Poe's work. I can remember reading it the first time when I was in middle school. It was the first time a literary work had ever left me both terrified and disgusted. I could not believe that a human being could kill another person with such malice and for seemingly no reason. The part where the narrator cuts up the old man's body and then shoves him under the floorboards produced images in my head that made it very hard for me to sleep that night! I think the really eerie part, though, was the fact that the narrator thought his actions were perfectly normal. He even goes so far as to say in the first several paragraphs that he was completely sane. He had absolutely no remorse!
The pacing of the story is what has the greatest effect on me. The way that the story builds slowly and then picks up the pace to the climax where the narrator raves to the police and cannot hide his crime anymore is amazing to me.
I imagine the narrator sitting in a dark room, just recalling the crime and the circumstances around it. The apartment strikes me as being somewhat dark, of course with dark wood panelling and flooring, a somewhat musty or a little bit dusty interior. The narrator in my mind is a shrewd and clever man, but also sort of non-descript, not the kind of guy that one would consider a possible killer.
When I was middle school, "The Tell-Tale Heart" was one of those stories that made me want to read. I was sucked in by the suspense and the tension throughout the story, not to mention the gore and horror that most middle school boys salivate for. Even to this day, the art and craft Poe demonstrates in the story is impressive, even if I have since lost my thirst for the blood and gore!
There is an immediate edginess to this story as Poe plunges the reader into the story with his exclamatory beginning. Then, there is a terrible obsessiveness to the narrator as he becomes fixated upon the bluish eye. But the most macabre incident is the fact that the old man knows that the narrator is watching him.
When I first read it I must admit I became overwhelmed by the insight Poe was giving me into the mind of a lunatic who protests that he is not. The sense of terror as it is communicated by the old man before his death and then the ever-wilder responses of the narrator as he hears the heart beating create an eerie, supernatural power that makes this story hard to forget!
Without doubt, when first reading this story i was overwhelmed by the seemingly unprovoked, grusome murder; as I would be with any tale like this. I found it very intesting seeing the world through the eyes of the mad narator, trying to pprove he is sane. Strange ...
I think the best thing about this story, though is the symbolism of the heart and eye, how they prove to make the story a much more intricate plot line than it first seems.
A good website to learn more about this is: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20324984/The-Tell-Tale-Heart-Suspense-and-Tension-Essay
What struck me about this story was the abject horror of inevitability. Clearly from the beginning, we knew that the old man would die. We knew the madness driving the main character would lead to only one conclusion, and yet we waited breathlessly to see if we were correct.
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