What is the language technique used in "The Tell-Tale Heart?"

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Language technique are a category of literary device. When one is examining language technique, he or she is examining and identifying the use of literary techniques like metaphors, similes, personification and other such techniques. The second category of literary device is literary elements, like chronology, mood, tone and point of view.

Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," contains many different language techniques. First, he uses discourse. Discourse is the way one communicates. IN this story, the narrator is the only one who communicates. While he poses questions to the readers/audience, answers are not able to be given. Essentially, the narrator is simply restating an event from the past for the reader.

Imagery is also used in the text. The description of the old man's eye is image-ridden. " He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold." Readers can see the filmed eye easily. Not only that, the words used can force the reader to feel the same coldness the narrator feels.

A simile is found in the following line: "a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider." A simile is a comparison between two things which would not normally be compared (the comparison uses the words "like" or "as"). Here, the light of the lantern is compared to the thread of a spider. Again, because a simile, the image readers are left with is exact.

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the language reflects that of a dramatic monologue. The narrator speaks directly to the audience and his diction is confessional. It reflects the mind of the narrator, since he speaks in a continuous flow without any dialogue with others and offers his uninterrupted thoughts and feelings about the events in the story.

The narrator is delusional; though he commits a murder and dismembers a corpse for irrational reasons, he assures the reader of "how healthy" his mind is. His language veers from sober recognition of his crime ("There was no reason for what I did") to distraught paranoia at the story's end when he is convinced he hears the old man's heart continuing to beat under the floorboards ("Why does it not stop!?”).

Embedded in the narrator's consciousness are many rhetorical questions; it is as if the narrator wants the reader to help him make sense of his actions. He also uses imperatives to command the reader to give him a full hearing, such as when he exclaims, "hearken!"

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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