The Tell-Tale Heart Essay

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In the following essay, Robinson provides an overview of the style, themes, narrative technique, and multiple levels of meaning in " The Tell-Tale Heart."

Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" consists of a monologue in which an accused murderer protests his sanity rather than his innocence. The point of view is the criminal's, but the tone is ironic in that his protestation of sanity produces an opposite effect upon the reader. From these two premises stem multiple levels of action in the story. The criminal, for example, appears obsessed with defending his psychic self at whatever cost, but actually his drive is self-destructive since successful defense upon either implied charge— of murder or of criminal insanity— automatically involves admission of guilt upon the other.

Specifically, the narrator bases his plea upon the assumption that madness is incompatible with systematic action, and as evidence of his capacity for the...

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This section contains 3,887 words
(approx. 10 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Tell-Tale Heart Study Guide
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