Edgar Allen Poe (“The Tell Tale Heart”)

Poe was an influential 19th century writer. During this century, Romanticism was the artistic period. Gothicism and Science Fiction grew out of the Romantic Era, which was Poe’s style of writing. “His influential theory of “unity of effect” states that the author of a short story should construct a tale to fit one overall purpose or effect.”(Edgar, National) His life and this period had an impact on his style of writing.

The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story written in the 19th century by Edgar Allen Poe. This story is mainly about the narrator and an elderly man. The narrator becomes obsessed with the elderly mans’ “Demonic-eye”. Which in reality the elderly man’s’ eye is just a regular stink eye. The narrator wants to kill the old man. He ends up killing the old man and his conscious does not let him live with the guilt. Overall the narrator is just trying to prove his sanity rather than his innocence, but his guilt vanquished him.

Poe’s life growing up affected his writing drastically. Poe did not get to experience a normal childhood. When he was only 3 years of age, his parents died in a plane crash. As an orphan he lived a life of poverty and sadness. He was a foster child to John Allan, who never legally adopted him. At first living with his foster parent as good, because he attended the best schools and John Allan was a prosperous exporter. However, then came the debts and insufficient funds to support themselves. That is when everything went downhill and Poe enlisted in the army. He was dismissed from the army for neglecting to perform his duties. Poe then moved to Baltimore, with his aunt. He was publishing some short stories by then but he still wasn’t making enough to make a living. Slowly, things became much better for him. Poe got married and started gaining attention, but then later on his wife died. He then, remarried for unknown reasons and died a couple years after. “On October 3, he was discovered in a state of semi-consciousness; he died four days later without regaining the necessary lucidity to explain what had happened during the last days of his life.” (Edgar, Poetry)

Everything that Poe went through, helped him see through people. “While Poe’s position includes the chief requisites of pure aestheticism, his emphasis on literary formalism was directly linked to his philosophical ideals: through the calculated use of language one may express, though always imperfectly, a vision of truth and the essential condition of human existence.” (Edgar, Poetry) He wanted the readers to see the truth, and feel some emotional connection. No one was a saint or a perfectly normal human being. Everyone had a darkness inside of them. Whether they want to admit it or not. Most people want to prove that nothing is wrong with them and that they are completely normal, but that is not the case. The truth will always reveal and no one is normal or sane. There is good and evil within any man or woman.

This is where Gothicism and Science Fiction comes in, in Poe’s writing. “Historians note that Poe’s writings emphasizing the dark side of humanity and nature challenged the optimistic and confident spirit of the American people during the nineteenth century.” (Historical) Gothic literature creates feelings of suspense and diabolic terror. While, science fiction is imagination with scientific facts. Poe used these forms of writing bc he liked to show the supernatural and the darkness of the world. He exaggerated emotions in his short stories and used dark humor to kindle emotion. Poe sagaciously described every thought going through the narrator’s mind to reveal inner vision. He incorporated all the darkness in the world that he was witnessed, in his writing. Also, how guilt will eat you up, until the truth unravels. In The Tell-Tale Heart , the narrator’s deceptive heart, deceives him into killing the old man, just because he had an “evil-eye”, without thinking of the consequences. “It presents a very unique set of questions about the duality of the narrator’s character, and perhaps Poe’s point is that fine line that exists between the good and evil in all of us.”(Guilty) In reality, mankind acts without thinking, and sometimes put heart over mind. As in, making decisions without thoroughly thinking of the outcomes, which can be affected by feeling rather than by logic.

In conclusion, one can say there are many ways Poe revealed psychological realism in his writing. His writing has an emotional effect on people. The Tell-Tale Heart is a great example for this because of the actions and thoughts of the narrator. His perspective of life is what makes his Gothic and Science Fiction writing even better. He became one of the most influential writers in the world of literature. Poe wrote The Tell-Tale Heart to reveal the desires of proving one’s sanity and psychological realism of mankind.