Gothic Elements in the “The Tell Tale Heart”
The classic short story of “The Tell-Tale Heart”, written by one of the all time masters of horror, Edgar Allen Poe, has always been used as an excellent example of Gothic fiction. Edgar Allen Poe specialized in the art of gothic writing and wrote many stories that portrayed disturbing events and delved deeply into the minds of its characters. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe revolves the plot around a raving individual who, insisting that he is sane, murders an old man because of his` “vulture eye”. The three main gothic elements that are evident in this story are the unique setting, the theme of death and decay, and the presence of madness.
Unlike many other works of gothic fiction, this story
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He insists to the reader that he is not mad and that this can be proven by how carefully he thought out and executed his plan to carry out such a brutal crime. “Harken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story”. The violent dislike that the narrator takes to the way the old man looks at him with the eye, as well as the way that he describes how satisfied he was after killing the old man clearly indicate that he is not sane and that he has descended into madness. Poe’s main element of gothic literature which establishes the main theme of insanity is the use of psychological sounds. In this story he uses the abnormal sound of a heartbeat when the police arrive. The narrator describes how confidently he spoke with the police officers, up until the point where the sound of the dead old man’s heart began to beat loudly. He describes the sound, saying that it “was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton”. Poe makes it clear in this scene that the beating heart is not just the narrator listening to his own heart, but an unexplainable sound which may be the work of the supernatural. There is no reasonable explanation with which to reassure ourselves when we ask where this sound is coming from. This element of ambiguity is also quite common in gothic literature. Once the sound of the heart beating becomes unbearable for him, the narrator, overcome by a frenzy of emotions, loses grip