Tell Tale Identity Essay

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Identity forms an important part of the tell-tale heart. The identity of the narrator and their perception of self and their own insanity forms part of the short story’s overall charm and mystique. Poe as a writer is very aware of the effect his writing has on readers and purposefully crafts this character along with the character of the old man in order to create an intimate and suspenseful piece of writing. By following his own Gothic manifesto Poe is able to utilise his writing and narration within the story to “then combine(s) such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect.” (Poe, Review of Hawthorne, 1842) Of the exploration of identity through the main characters ‘nervousness’ and subsequent actions and behaviour …show more content…
Another technique utilised by Poe in this story is the repetition of certain phrases throughout the text. Phrases referencing to madness and insanity are constantly woven into the narration even though they are used in denial their presence further reinforces the idea that the narrator is mad but as yet to realise themselves, which only serves to further signpost readers towards the conclusion that yes the narrator is mad and obsessive. The italicisation of certain words within the text is also interesting, often focusing on either the narrator themselves, their actions or what they are focusing on mentally at that point, leading to certain parts of the narration feeling disjointed and often sporadic. As if the narrators mind is struggling to focus upon one thing at a time as the paranoia and ‘nervousness’ that they are experiencing begins to fully take hold of their mental state. All of this repetition and italicisation further implicates the narrator as unstable and having a weak mental state further adding to the construction of identity by the narrator in this text. And this is important as writing in this way allows Poe to interact in a more personal way with his readers, making them feel as though they are observing the actions within the story first-hand and having them explained to them by the narrator as they read. But the narrator’s explanations are weak and their theory unsound, the events occurring within the story are described fairly truthfully by the …show more content…
One of the main questions that we are faced as readers when reading this text is whether the narrator is insane or not? Upon first reading we note that yes his speech and actions are strange but when we then look further into the text and the way Poe portrays this narration then we begin to see the finer cracks appear in the narrators persona. Self-narration is a literary device often employed by Poe when writing his short stories, allowing him creative freedom whilst also being able to write from a perspective that can directly relate to the audience if readers. Throughout the text the narrator is constantly trying to convince both themselves and the reader of their sanity and the justification of their own actions against the old man. Throughout the novel the narrator is constantly reminding us that they are not insane however due to the nature of Poe’s writing and authorship we can straight away tell that this is not the case “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me.” Self-narration allows Poe to give us an insight into the narrators mind and see how the “disease had sharpened my senses”. Due to the way these narrative parts are written they begin to create an assumption within us as readers that yes the narrator is mad and this is only further validated at the end of the story. But we realise that when the narrator appeals to us as observers they are not only trying to convince us the readers of their sanity but also themselves as they are

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