Beyond Facades (A comaprison and contrast between "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "Misery")

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Beyond Facades

In every story, characters are the ones who give life, and add spice. The way a character is portrayed greatly adds to the development of a story. This is seen in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and Anton Chekhov’s “Misery.” The protagonists in each story hold different perspectives in life - one, seeing another’s life as despair to him, and the other, seeing the value of life and the price of losing it.

Edgar Allan Poe shows us in detail a man who has a mental disorder and how he murdered an old man who has been good to him. Even though Poe never really stated that the protagonist is a man, there are evidences in the story which are linked to this assumption. First, men are more likely to commit murder than women. Second, the protagonist shows strength which only men are capable of. “In an instant, I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him.” This is not something a woman could do. The protagonist also got four chairs for him and the three officers. If “he” is a girl, then the officers would have offered to get the chairs themselves. We can also say that this man is fit and not overweight, for a stout man cannot hold himself too long just as this man did when he waited every night for eight nights holding the lantern and thrusting himself in the door.

This man showed that he is definitely insane by saying otherwise. We all know that no crazy man will admit that he is indeed out of his mind. He also said: “I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth.” This is obviously not something a normal man would say. He is a man who is keen to details and even little things bother him. The best example would be the eye, which is the only reason why he killed the old man. He couldn’t bear the old man’s eye. The eye was only described as “...the eye of a vulture – a pale blue eye with a film over it.” We do not know what is wrong with the old man’s eye, but this should be no reason to kill him. One big reason to say that he is unquestionably out of his mind is when he admitted the murder to the police officers because of “hearing” the heartbeat. This could not be possible and is obviously an illusion, something that a sane murderer would not do. He is haunted by his conscience for what he has done. He could have gotten away with it, but no, he chose to admit the deed.

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The story was told in first person, which is unreliable. We say that it is unreliable because we don’t know for sure if what he’s saying is true. No one can account for his words, and no one witnessed what happened. Poe did not name the protagonist in this story. He may have put himself in the murderer’s shoes and that’s what he wants everyone to do. He wants everyone to relate to it and feel what the murderer felt. Without naming the man, he can represent anyone, which adds to the thrill of reading this story. You can feel ...

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