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The Tell Tale Heart - Critical Analysis

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"Through the close reading of Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart' produce a critical discussion of the text. This should include a focused analysis of the passage and an exploration into the writer's choice of language and style for a dramatic effect."

Edgar Allan Poe's - The Tell -Tale Heart is a horror story, psychological thriller and confession written from a first person perspective. It covers issues on psychotic behaviour, paranoia, guilt and murder through the language, structure and narrative form. Poe believed that all good literature must create a united effect on the reader and reveal truth or evoke emotions. The Tell-Tale Heart exemplifies this with Poe's ability to expose the dark side of humankind, also dealing with psychological realism. Poe also establishes that the story is directed at an anonymous reader, narrated by an anonymous person because of the application of unnamed characters.

Poe's particular use of language makes the reader able to understand the narrator. The disjointed and prolonged sentence structure reflects his crazed mind and this is shown in the opening paragraph by the repeated use of hyphens. 'True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous...' This dramatic opening indicates the importance of the character we are about to meet. By using punctuation to imitate the mind of the narrator, the reader is able to identify his psychotic tendencies immediately; this shows the nature of the unreliable narrator. Through the constant varied use of punctuation Poe is able to establish a realistic representation of the impulsive behaviour of the narrator. The use of exclamation, commas, hyphens and dashes portray the actions of the murderer and advertise Poe's conscious intention; the protagonist's insistence in proving himself sane, which consequently intensifies the idea of his madness. The application of repeatedly using these techniques initiates the involvement of the reader and they are able to understand what is going on, both within the narration and the characters' mind.

The Tell-Tale Heart has a high use of personal pronouns. The narrator repeatedly refers to himself by using the word 'I' and 'my'. This causes the reader to think that he has great confidence in himself and that he thinks his own behaviour is rational. Everything is revolved around him, 'how dreadfully nervous I had been and am', he



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