How Doyle and Poe represent crime in their stories

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Anushki Jayasekera 10A

How do Doyle and Poe present crime in their stories?

Poe's most exemplary writing is the cause of his uniquely terrifying world, and intriguing connections to facets of the author's tragically disordered life. He is also responsible for his most famous poems ‘The Raven’, ‘Ulalume’, ‘The Bells’ and ‘The City in the Sea’ which were enormously influential. These famous verses were behind a powerful wave of enthusiasm for Poe that arose among the leading writers of Europe during his own lifetime, spread thereafter around the world, and was sustained through the ‘discovery’ of existential ‘human condition’ themes in his short stories, generations later. Poe’s theory was that, the writer should aim at creating a single and total psychological or spiritual effect upon the reader. The theme or plot of the piece is always subordinate to the author's calculated construction of a single, intense mood in the reader's mind, be it melancholy, suspense, or horror.

In his story ‘Tell Tale Heart’, Poe creates an atmosphere filled with apprehension, revulsion. He also examines the criminal mentality, by using a variety of technical features and reasons for terror that is never apparent, resulting in the frightening events of his story. In it Poe uses the criminal’s point of view, presenting the story from a different perspective, allowing the reader to analyze and explore the dark side of the criminal psyche, which Poe presents alluring and obnoxious at the same time.

Poe’s loathsome criminal, acts as the protagonist, and narrates the story, ‘I killed …I put…I undid’. The pronoun ‘I’ indicates that the criminal is referring to himself, providing the reader with a clear image of what the criminal’s intentions and actions are, presenting the crime. There are no extra elements in Poe, no subplots, no minor characters, and no digressions except those that show the madness of deranged first-person ("I") narrators. This further gives the impression that the criminal is obsessed with himself and is over confident, thinking that he is ‘...wise...’, talented and very cunning, wanting to make the point clear that he is doing the right thing very carefully.

During the criminal’s preparation for the murder he enters the man’s room everyday, thrusting his head first through the door, ‘I moved slowly- very, very slowly...stealthily, stealthily….not disturb..’. Poe uses the adverbs ‘stealthily and slowly’, to describe the criminal’s cautious and vigilant movements, using the continued use of repetition also explaining the criminal’s self obsession and importance of his task. However, it also highlights the character inability to judge himself clearly and is denial, clearly missing the part of his own personality. Poe continues to describe the killer’s behavior ‘audacity of prefect triumph’ and being ‘...a madman....’ using powerful adjectives, and at the same time creating a paradox.

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Poe’s use of varied types of language also reflected upon the type of character the criminal is, including inverted word orders such as, ‘He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult’ this technique emphasizes the criminal’s reasons and makes the text more interesting. ‘For his gold I had no desire’, the verb ‘desire’ is a negative impression but puts the idea of the criminal’s passion into the reader’s mind. The quotation is also monosyllabic, which Poe uses to create tension in the text. It also illustrates the fact that the criminal wasn’t targeting the old man ...

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