Poe manipulates time throughout the story.
Find three quotations that deal with time moving slowly and two quotations with moving quickly. What are the effects of Poe changing the pace of the story like this?
Poe has shown us the various deranged states of the narrator through his inability to keep 'normal' time. His intensely deliberate actions at the beginning contrast with his wild raving and dramatic revelation at the end.
The narrator of the story is mad, as we ascertain quite early in the story. His meticulously slow and sinister actions at the beginning of the story show this. Here the narrator has moved painfully slowly to position himself to be able to see the old man -
It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed.
He then tells us how he repeats this bizarre ritual just to see the eye of the old man -
And this I did for seven long nights --every night just at midnight.
He is boastful of the measured pace with which he carries out his deed -
A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers --of my sagacity.
However, the story picks up pace when the narrator finally attacks and murders the old man. He is at his most intense, as the pace of the story reflects, when he has the police at the house, questioning him about the noise. Here we see him lose control as he is questioned by the police but is troubled by an increasingly loud sound -
I talked more quickly --more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased.
Unable to contain his inner turmoil the narrator reveals his crime and what he believes to be the source of the sound which plagues him -
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!"