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What are the Gothic elements presented in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart?"

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scotthaken | (Level 1) Honors

Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM via web

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What are the Gothic elements presented in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" contains many different elements true to the Gothic text. Gothic literature, a period which parallelled Romanticism, shared the focus of the irrational and imagination over that of the rational and reasonable. Outside of these, Gothic literature contained images of decay (typically in that of the human body or scenery (crumbling castles)), death (murder or false deaths (as with Poe's "The Premature Burial"), and terror (ghosts, phantasms, horrendous acts (murder)). In regards to the story, it contains images of decay (the description of the film-covered eye), death (the murder of the Old Man), and terror (the stalking and murder of the Old Man).

Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" includes a setting which provokes terror. While not much as told to readers about where the story actually takes place, the illusive setting could take place anywhere (even around the corner). The constant darkness the narrator speaks of also adds to the terror.

The narrator himself illuminates the irrational characteristic of the Gothic text. In the opening, the narrator openly states that he is not insane (and then spends night after night staring at the Old Man). Many readers immediately question the narrators sanity.

The story is told as a narrative, another characteristic of the Gothic text. Narrated by the one responsible for the murder, the story follows the chronological order of how the events played out. This allows the reader to see how the plot unfolds. This also allows the speaker to leave certain aspects out so as to add to the suspense and fear.

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