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In "The Tell-Tale Heart" how does the use of repetition relate to the conflict?

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elephante | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 14, 2009 at 5:06 AM via web

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart" how does the use of repetition relate to the conflict?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 14, 2009 at 6:18 AM (Answer #1)

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Repetition serves to intensify the drama, heighten the conflict, make everyone anxious and stressed, and overall make for a more suspenseful telling of the tale.  In this story, it is in the description of the heart getting louder that there is a lot of repetition.  Poe could have written once, "The beating heart grew louder" and then moved on, but that is not very intense at all.  Compare that to "It grew louder—louder—louder!...and now—again!—hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!"  Saying it over and over like that makes the situation seem much more dire, anxious, and helps the reader to feel the narrator's distress.  Think of it as standing at the edge of a cliff; someone tells you to jump, then walks away.  But if they are standing behind you insisting over and over, "Jump!  Jump!  Jump now!" it transforms the situation into a much more conflicted one; you must battle not only your decision, but the insistent tone of the demands.  You can't ignore the demands, and they take over all else.  Poe does this in the story; we can't ignore the beating heart at the end, because Poe puts it front and center with his repetition; in that moment, we are like the narrator, to whom the beating heart has become everything.  Repetition is a great way to intensify the conflict, make it more real to the reader, and prioritize the storyline how the author wants it to be.

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jack1995 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 14, 2009 at 11:25 PM (Answer #2)

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Poe used lots of repetition in the stroy. The narrator insisted that he is not mad, in fact, because of his repetition we concluded that he is mad.

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