The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart book cover
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Is the main character dynamic or static in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

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In literature, a static character is someone who does not develop or undergo an important change throughout the story. A static character's perspective and personality remain the same from the beginning to the end of the story. In contrast, a dynamic character undergoes a significant change, and their perspective and personality differ from the beginning to the end of the narrative. Dynamic characters are typically round and change after facing trials and tribulations.

In Poe's classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart," the unnamed narrator is a dynamic character. At the beginning of the story, the narrator is confident, insensitive, and composed as he plans and executes the murder of the old man. The narrator believes that he cannot be caught and carefully prepares to kill the old man in the middle of the night. On the eighth night, the narrator suffocates the old man and proceeds to dismember his body before placing the old man's remains underneath the floorboard. The entire time he is hiding the body, the narrator is composed and demonstrates no remorse for his actions.

However, several police officers arrive, and the narrator begins to experience auditory hallucinations, which are directly associated with his feelings of guilt, remorse, and anxiety. Eventually, the narrator begins to act irrationally, cannot stop hearing the sound of the old man's beating heart, and becomes overwhelmed with guilt. The unreliable narrator eventually admits to murdering the old man and shows the officers where he hid the body. Since the narrator experienced a change in perspective and personality from the beginning to the end of the story, his character is considered dynamic.

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