poeies are Americas favorite form of entertainment. One of the most famous American writers is Edgar Allen Poe who wrote the two famous stories The Tell- Tale Heart and The Black Cat. In the The Tell- Tale Heart and The Black Cat narrative and imagery is used to express the main characters eerie sense of evil. Both stories lack moral sentiment yet describe conscience. They also make one tremble with fear and think with suspense.
The Tell- Tale Heart is about a crazy man who was insanely convinced that an old sick man had an evil eye. Poe begins the story, True I am Nervous- Very Nervous. This tells the reader that the story is written in the first person. The crazy man is nervous because he killed the sick old man. He did not just kill him, but he buried him in the floor of the old mans room. This was ironic because the crazy man was the old mans caretaker. Also, he was not supposed to kill him, his job was to take care of him.
The police were called to go to the house because of the loud noises. The crazy man finally confessed to the police when they were about to leave. He said that he heard the beating of the old mans heart. It was really his conscience because the old man was dead. Although Poe wrote this story in a horrifying manner he shows how the incredible evil in the narrator is matched by his torturing conscience. Poe refers to this as perversity. The murder is content with his crime, but then wants to reveal it due to his annoying conscience.
Poe writes with extreme detail, so having the main character tell the story is helpful. In Tell- Tale Heart the crazy man is the narrator. He discusses his obsession to kill the old man and later describes his conscience eating away at him. As the main character tells the story it becomes easier for us, the readers, to sense the emotions and the feelings he is trying to portray. The narrator explains, For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, an din the meantime I did not hear him lie down. This statement is an example of how it is effective to have a narrator in the story containing strong detail. Here we can feel a strong sense of tension and see a motionless quiet setting. Also the narrator improves the contact with the readers because it is as though he is telling the story directly to them.
Poe uses vivid imagery in his writing. The crazy man argues, One of his eyes resembles that of a vulture- a pale blue eye with film over it. This creates a picture for the reader. He is explaining the old mans eye so the audience can picture it. He is also showing his insane mind and troubled imagination. Another line, which shows imagery, is A watchs minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Here the narrator is describing his slow, cautious movements by comparison. He is saying how he slowly opened the door, and is comparing his movement to that of a minute hand on a watch. This again helps create a picture for the reader. Through the story the narrator describes his motions, feelings and what he sees. This use of several images makes the story suspenseful and interesting.
The crazy mans, or the narrators point of view is expressed. This is advantageous because, as the reader, a person knows everything that the character is feeling. This is also bad because the reader only sees one characters opinion and no one elses. The crazy man makes the old man seem evil. The old mans point of view however is not seen.
The Black Cat is a story about a man with many pets. The man epically adored his black cat. He became an alcoholic and one night when he was drunk he cut the cats eye out. This caused the cat to become afraid of the man. After a while, the cats eye socket healed. Then one day the man killed the cat by hanging it from a tree. At first this hardly affected the mans conscience. The man went to a bar one day and fell in love with a cat. The cat then followed him home. After a while, the mans wife loved the cat and the man grew to hate it. One day the man got so mad at the cat he tried to kill it, but the wife stopped him. This got the man infuriated and he killed his wife. He hid the body in the walls of the cellar. Policemen came to question the man. When they were in the cellar the man had a cane in his hand, which he used to hit the wall with his wifes body in it. A cry from within was heard. The policemen dug through it and found the cat sitting on the dead body. The man had inadvertently buried the cat in the wall. Again in this story, as in Tell- Tale Heart, the murder commits his crime and then reveals it to the police. This is a pattern found in Poes works and is known as perversity.
This story is written in first person narrative. This allows the story to have a greater effect on the reader. Basically, there is only one main character in the story and he is the narrator. This is advantageous because there is only one point of view to be heard, aside from his wife who does not play a big role and the cat that cannot speak. The narrator begins the story as if he were speaking directly to the audience. He says, I do not expect you to believe the wild story I am about to tell. This helps the readers to get right into the story with the main character. The narrator also describes his own characteristics, which gives the reader a better outlook and understanding of the character.
Imagery is used by Poe to create a clear suspenseful picture for the audience. The man says, Some evil drunken spirit flamed in my heart. This statement is filled with descriptive words to express how the narrator is feeling. He had just returned home drunk and violently went after his favorite cat. The narrator is extremely descriptive. For example, he explains in detail the cellar of his house and the way he killed and buried his wife there.
Throughout the story it is obvious that the man lacks morals, and his conscience is practially invisible. He states, The guilt of my dark deed bothered me very little. This shows that he was truly crazy because he preformed devilish acts and did not even feel remorse. Again, Poes use of words shows the readers that the man felt this way. Also, after the man puts his wife in the wall he continues to search for the cat which he has every intention of killing. His conscience does not bother him.
Both of these stories were written by Poe to create fear and surprise for their readers, and they certainly did. That is a reason why Poe is still an important literary figure today. Fyodor Dostoevski, a critic, says it is best when he says it best when he says that Poe is a strange, though enormously talented writer (301). He makes one tremble and one think. Poes imagination separates him from every other writer. He is extremely detailed when