In what way is Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart' told differently from many other narratives?
In order to see the difference between this short story and other narratives, it would be helpful to consider the how a typical narrative is written. By nature, narratives are meant to tell a story. This means they typically follow a basic plot line, which opens with background information and presents the conflict, continues with rising action and complications, peaks at a climax (or the height of the action), and finishes with the falling action and resolution. The number of characters in any narrative can certainly vary, but typically, even with a single story teller who may have limited perspective, narratives are taken at face value because events are presented logically and details are mostly consistent. Through his use of first person point-of-view and the telling of a story through a monologue, "A Tell-Tale Heart," as a narrative, demonstrates one of Poe's most notable qualities as an accomplished writer and the grandfather of horror in American literature.
First, the point of view is not only limited because it comes from only one character, but it is further limited when it is slowly revealed that the narrator is suffering from extreme nerves, and is more than likely psychologically crazy. His one dimensional perspective on events is further limited by his twisted sense of reality and inability to think rationally. This is most clearly shown through the tone of his monologue which seems to rapidly shift between a sense of calm and rational logic, to short quick outbursts of irrationality. Though the story mostly progresses along a typical plot-line, the reader is left to wonder how much of it is actually true. Lack of logic and consistency (in both the tone and the details)...
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