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Gothic Tales and Edgar Allan Poe

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Compare 'The Tell-Tale Heart' with 'The Black Cat'. How, in these tales, does Poe draw on the Gothic tradition and take us into the tormented, diseased minds of his narrators In both 'The Tell-Tale Heat' and 'The Black Cat' there are many gothic effects used. For example, the gruesome concealment of the victims is described in a deadpan but detailed manner. In The Black Cat our narrator describes all of his options and then illustrates exactly how he carried it out, "...I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body...Having procured mortar, sand, and hair...I prepared a plaster which could not be distinguished from the old..." Then in The Tell-Tale Heart he describes this concealment procedure again, " I took up... the flooring...then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly the no human eye...could have detected anything wrong...nothing to wash out...no blood-spot whatever." Both narrators seem proud at their astute covering-up of the innocent victims. The gruesome lexis, mixed with the matter-of-fact tone gives off a horrifyingly insane, but calm feel to the passage. Also the motives for the killing seemed irrational and over emotional in both stories. This is another typical Gothic characteristic. In The Tell-Tale Heart he says "I loved the old man...never wronged me...never given me insult...One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture...take the life of the old mad, and thus rid myself of the eye forever." ...read more.


Firstly the large imprint of "the figure of a gigantic cat...There was a rope about the animal's neck", this was left on the wall the night after our narrator had killed his cat, this is not a figment of his imagination though as other people around can see it; later on however the narrator describes a mark of white hair, which shows "the image of a hideous -of a ghastly thing -of the GALLOWS!" This is more likely to be an illusion as the remorse builds up inside him. But he describes it as "...terrible engine of Horror and of Crime -of Agony and of Death!" The lexis used here is full of anger and is very strong. The capitalisation of the more significantly brutal words personifies these aspects and emphasises the narrator's fear of the cat and of guilt. Poe uses many different techniques to suck the reader into the mind of his narrators. For example in the The Tell Tale Heart he describes his "disease" to the reader and excuses his actions. "The disease has sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them." This line shows how the narrator is quite openely conceited. His insanity is revealed to us in a number of ways, firstly the deadpan tone of many parts of the passage give the reader an ...read more.


In both stories, the narrators end with a confession to their terrible deeds, both obviously caused by insolence and bravado. Another feature that is in The Black Cat but not The Tell Tale Heart is the sense of paranoia given off by the narrator, about the mark of white hair on his second cat's chest, "...the mark...of which I have spoken...assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline...the image of a hideous- of a ghastly thing - of the GALLOWS!" This paranoia of an omen about the sadistic murder of Pluto blatently lays out the narrator's madness and causes the reader to feel possibly more sympathetic, but more likely, to feel more estranged from the narrator. In conclusion I found the ways in which we were drawn into the psychotic mind of our killers were more effective in The Black Cat, as some were more subtle, but the more obvious one's were easier to spot and gave a more definite and outlined picture of the narrator's psyche. However, I found that the typical Gothic features used in The Tell Tale Heart made it more Gothic than in The Black Cat and also made the tale more chilling, even if not as gruesome or detailed as The Black Cat. ?? ?? ?? ?? Monika Ghosh 1 ...read more.

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