”The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe
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‘The Tell Tale Heart’ is a story about a man who killed an old man just because he didn’t like the way his eyes looked like. The main character speaks about madness as being a gift and not a kid of disability for example in paragraph one on page 93 he says: ‘ but why would you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses-not destroyed-not dulled them’. The mad man killed the old man and then cut him up and put him under the floorboards of the house.
‘The fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ is a story about a man (William Acton) who killed his neighbour (Huxley) because he thought that Huxley was having an affair with his wife. Acton strangles Huxley and then he cleans the Huxley’s house so that there aren’t any fingerprints in the house left so that the police can trace the murder back to Acton.
In ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ the main character thinks that he has done the right thing by killing the old man and that he got rid of the ‘evil eye’. The main character is very confident about what he has done and think that he had a very good reason for killing the old man which was that he didn’t like the way his eyes looked like and because he thought that the eyes were evil. We can see evidence of that in the 2nd paragraph on page 93 where he says: ‘I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture-very gradually- I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.’ In my opinion I think that this is no good reason for killing a human being the is like me killing someone because they have ginger hair whereas is ‘The fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ William Acton has a good enough reason about killing Huxley well maybe not a big reason, but at least a normal reason for killing Huxley and the reason is that Acton thought that Huxley was having a affair with his wife.
I think Acton maybe feels a little bit guilty and is very paranoid about the whole murder unlike in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ where the murder is very confident about what he had done and planned the whole murder whereas Acton didn’t really plan to kill Huxley, but Acton in his mind thought that Huxley knew all along that he was going to get murdered. Acton thought that Huxley planned to get murdered and so told Acton to touch a lot of stuff in the house for example on page 83 Huxley said: ‘There’s a bottle of burgundy, Acton. Mind fetching it from that cabinet?
Yes, fetch it. Handle it. Touch it. He did.’
Than Acton thought that Huxley was basically setting him up. Once Acton strangled Huxley he had started to clean the house of fingerprints. That was all fine and well but Acton didn’t clean only the door knobs, glasses, cup and things like that which he touched he cleaned the whole house the walls, the couch absolutely everything which was a sign of big paranoia from Acton.
The character in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ had a lot of conversations throughout the story but all the conversations were to himself. The things that the character talked about were very strange. He talked about how every night at midnight for the last week he came to check on the old man to see the ‘evil eye’ and to look up on the old man. The character talked about how cautiously he opened the door so the old man wouldn’t here him. He would open the door ‘just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye’-as in paragraph one on page 94 whereas in the ‘Fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ Acton the main character had conversations with himself using flashbacks like on page 83 in the first paragraph were he looked back just before he killed Huxley and the things that happened. As Acton looked back he realised that Huxley was telling him to touch everything in the room the books, the bottle of burgundy, the burgundy glasses etc. as if Huxley knew that he was going to get murdered.
Acton thought that Huxley was setting him up for what he was about to do. Acton now thought that his fingerprints were everywhere in the house and the he was set up by Huxley and in a way he thought that he was outsmarted by Huxley. When Acton went to look for the gloves so that there weren’t any more fingerprints in the house he was a bit frustrated that he couldn’t find the gloves and so was asking himself even more could Huxley have know that he was going to get murdered? Like on page 86 in the first paragraph Acton said: ‘Did you guess I was going to kill you?’ and on the same page in the same paragraph he said: ‘ Were you that cleaver and that mean?’ The other conversations that Acton had were about how he could have done the murder better.
In ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ the main can hear and see a few strange things. The character sees the old mans eye as evil. This maybe is not unusual because the old man could be looking at the character in a strange way and by looking that way at him the character may think that the old man has an ‘evil eye’. After he has murdered the old man and when he is sitting down in the room where the old man is dead under the floorboards chatting with the police he all of a sudden starts to hear a heartbeat which is getting louder, louder and louder. This heartbeat may represent the characters guilty conscience and shows us that the character is actually nervous about what he had done. However it’s that mad people don’t have a conscience so this may support the characters argument about not being mad, but on the other hand hearing a heartbeat that no one else can hear is a little bit strange and points that he might be mad. So the heartbeat is the key point in answering the question is he or is he not mad?
In ‘The Fruit at the bottom of the bowl’ Acton can see himself as an artist who has just made a piece of art (the dead body) and clearing all the evidence that points to him. This make Acton look not normal but a bit mad if he looks at a dead body and treats it like a piece of art. As the story goes Acton starts to see fingerprints all over the house. His fingerprints. This is a little bit strange, as you cannot see fingerprints with your naked eye unless you are really close and seeing fingerprints on an object is extremely hard. This is showing that he is a bit mad and a bit paranoid.
Both characters start to see or hear things after they have committed the crime, which shows I think that they are guilty, but the heartbeat is ambivalent and the fingerprints are not. When the main characters start to see and hear things they start to fall and get very, very nervous which shows again that they are felling guilty. The seeing of the fingerprints was the reason why Acton started to polish the whole house and in my mind the reason why he got caught.
The characters reactions help us tell wheatear they are mad or not. Acton feels very passionate about his murder and treats it like a piece of art and so tries to make absolutely everything perfect. If you look as a piece of art like the Mona Lisa then I think that the person is completely mad. However the main character in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ is not as thrilled as the Acton about the crime. The character is just happy the he got rid of the ‘evil eye’. He treats it like a job so he is happy that the job was done successfully. Acton’s reaction is a bit strange whereas the reaction of the main character in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ is very normal it’s like ok job done move on whereas Acton is trying to make it better and better as a true artist.
Once the characters have committed the murders they are starting to get rid of the evidence and in this part where they are meant to make everything normal in my mind they make us think that they are even madder then we thought at the beginning of the story. In ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ the character kills the old man and then he chops him off into pieces and putts the body under the floorboards of the room, which in a way is smart but also very sick and insane. Acton is even madder because he starts to polish the whole house so that he would get rid of the fingerprints he even polishes the walls and even the furniture. This shows that he is insane because he is saying that he is seeing the fingerprints and it is nearly impossible actually I think it is impossible to see your fingerprints with your naked eye on fabric, which shows that he is mad and paranoid. However it is normal to clean fingerprints to get rid of the evidence but the problem is that Acton took it over the edge. We can see that both characters are emphasising madness they are also showing us that they are a bit normal and smart.
The two stories are told in different ways. ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ is told in the 1st person narrative whereas the ‘The Fruit At The Bottom Of The Bowl’ is told in the 3rd person narrative. I think that the story is better told if it’s in the 1st person narrative because it lets you see the story from the characters point of view and it lets you engage with the thoughts and filings of the character.
In the 2 stories rhetorical questions are used. The use of the rhetorical questions is different in the 2 stories because ‘In the Fruit At The Bottom Of The Bowl’ the rhetorical questions are used to create confusion whereas in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ the rhetorical questions are used to express anger from the main character this is showing that the character isn’t happy when people call him mad.
In the 2 stories there was also strange use of punctuation to affect the madness. The character in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ being mad to us a lot of repetitions like: ‘very, very’ and louder, louder etc. There also is a lot of dashes so that the sentence is made longer and in a way makes us the readers think that the character is mad. There is a lot of short and long sentences in the stories. The short sentences were mainly used they to create a bigger impact on the reader whereas the long sentences were boring and mostly describing things. The short sentences were used in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ when the main character was feeling tense especially when he started to hear the heartbeat of the old man.
I think that the portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe is better because his technique was better than the one of Ray Bradbury. I think that because he wrote in the 1st person narrative this is because I could engage better with the character and get into his inner thoughts whereas the 3rd person narrative which was used by Ray Bradbury doesn’t give you that kind of insight into the character and the 1st person narrative helps us understand the characters madness. The other good thing that Edgar Allan Poe did was that he made the madness of the character grow more and more as the story went on.