The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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How can I write a stylesheet of the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" identifying tone, diction, sentence structure, and figurative language?

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Let's start with tone. The tone of a piece is the speaker's attitude and or the way the narrator feels, but tone is not simply a device. Tone is created through devices such as diction, syntax (sentence structure), and connotation/denotation. If we look at these devices in context, we can see how Poe creates a suspenseful, eerie, yet excited tone.

Looking at the diction, we find formal (scholarly) word choices and hyperbole throughout the piece. For example, take a look at this sentence:

You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work!

This sentence is wrought with high-level vocab such as "foresight" and "dissimulation," and it's used in a complex sentence structure. Poe uses multiple hyphens to elongate his sentences here and throughout the piece. But when we break down the sentence's meaning, it simply means the narrator was clever and thought through his murder so he wouldn't get caught.

We see this again when the narrator enters the old man's room:

And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously—oh, so cautiously—cautiously (for the hinges creaked)—I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights—every night just at midnight—but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.

The narrator drags out the experience using repeated formal words such as "cautiously" and "vexed." We see the return of hyphens and the addition of semi-colons to create complex-compound...

(The entire section contains 612 words.)

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