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The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe

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How does the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" differ from the narrator in Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"?

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The narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a first person narrator.  The man who was involved in the action of the story tells the story from the first person, using "I" to relate the action.  In "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calvaras County," the story is technically in first person, because it uses the "I" to relate the events, however, it is a bit more complicated than that.  The story is told almost in a third-person first person. To explain, the author of the story is Mark Twain, but, he is getting the events of the story from a man at a general store, who tells the story of another man's actions.  So, Twain isn't the star of the action, nor is the garrulous Simon Wheeler; the man who is performing most of the action is the Jim Smiley.  But Jim Smiley is not telling the tale.  To be similar to "The Tell-Tale Heart," Jim Smiley would have to be telling of the action, not Mark Twain, who is two people removed from the story.  I hope that makes sense.  To restate, "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a first-person narrator, and it is the narrator performing the actions of the story.  "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is a frame tale, where there is a story within a story; Twain uses the first person to recount his encounter with Simon Wheeler, who then recounts the legend of Jim Smiley.  So, Twain is not the one who is telling the story of the main action, it is Simon Wheeler, and, Simon Wheeler is not the man behind the main action either. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator and man of action are one and the same.

I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

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