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Edgar Allan Poe: Crime and Punishment A certain group of short stories of Edgar Allan Poe can be described as the Tales of Gothic Horror, but I would like to group them as tales of crime and punishment. All them are surprisingly simple and the moral meaning easily understood: guilt causes pain; loss of human contact means spiritual death; and conscience must be carefully thought about. The two stories that I felt applied the greatest are The Black Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart. Each has a different style and interpretation, but the main themes are closely related to each other. Before reading these stories, you must understand the mental state the author was. In these tales, you can feel the despair that Poe feels.
He wrote himself that the most direct, and perhaps, most salutary, is that of self-examination and self knowledge. He felt that individuals could obtain a perfectly accurate estimate of oneself. Poe never found what he considered love, and you can identify the torment that it put him through. These crime and punishment stories show the perverseness that Poe uses to express his themes.
The Tell-Tale Heart is Poe's first psychological study of domestic violence and guilt. The story covers a period of approximately eight days with most of the important action occurring each night around midnight. The location is the home of an elderly main which the narrator has become a caretaker. This story contains a nameless narrator that becomes the main focus of the tale. This narrator may be male or female because Poe uses only I and me in reference to this character.
Most readers assume that the narrator image because of a male author using a first person point of view; however this story canals be plausible when the deranged protagonist appears as a woman. Poe writes this story from the perspective of the murderer of the old man. The narrator, in the particular story, adds to the overall effect of horror by continually stressing to the reader that he ore is not mad, and tries to convince us of that fact by how carefully this brutal crime was planned and executed. Poe's story is a case of domestic violence that occurs as the results an irrational fear. To the narrator that fear is represented by the old mans eye. Through the narrator, Poe describes this eye as being pale blue with a film over it, and resembling that of a vulture.
The belief in the evil eye dates back to ancient times. The belief centers around the idea that those who possess the evil eye have the power to harm people or their possessions by merely looking at them. To protect oneself from the power the eye, certain measures must be taken. Human nature is a delicate balance of lighting dark, or good and evil. Most of the time this precarious balance is maintained; however, when there is a shift, for whatever reason, the dark or perverse side surfaces.
Inches case, it is the vulture eye of the old man that makes the narrators blood run cold. Itis this irrational fear which evokes the dark side, and eventually leads to murder. Th narrator plans, executes and conceals the crime. The narrator speaks of an illness that has heightened the senses: Above all was the sense of hearing acute.
I heard things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. The narrator repeatedly insists that or she is not mad; however the reader soon realizes that the fear of the vulture eye has consumed the narrator, who has now become a victim to the madness which he had hoped to elude. In the story of The Black Cat, it begins with the narrator being in jail awaiting his execution, which will occur on the following day, for the brutal murder of his wife. Attract point, the rest of the story is told in flashback and the he describes it as the events that have destroyed him.
The true focus lies upon the nameless narrator, which is common in Poes literary works. Telling the story from the first person point of view intensifies the effect of moral shock and horror. This character has a tenderness of heart and is fond of animals, his favorite being a black cat named Pluto. Poe begins writing this story from the perspective of the narrator that has his character and temperament transformed through the use of alcohol. Poe constructed this story in such a way that the events of the tale remain somewhat ambiguous. As the narrator begins to recount the occurrences that destroys him, he reminds the reader that maybe it is nothing more than an ordinary succession of natural causes and effects.
From the beginning, the reader discovers that thomas personality had undergone a drastic transformation which he attributes to his abuse alcohol. The reader also discovers that the narrator is superstitious. Even though the narrator denies this, just as the narrator in the Tell-Tale Heart did in denying that he is insane, the reader becomes increasingly aware of his superstitious belief as the story progresses. Superstition has it that Satan and witches assume the form of black cats.
Appropriately, the narrator calls his cat Pluto, who in Greek and Roman mythology waste god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld. Poe's excellent use of foreshadowing is also used in this story. Within the first few paragraphs of the story, the narrator foreshadows that he will violently harm his wife. The Black Cat is Poe's second psychological study of domestic violence and guilt; however, this story does not deal with premeditated murder. The reader is told that the narrator appears to be happily married and has always been kind and gentle.
He attributes his downfall to the spirit of perverseness or otherwise known as alcohol. I argue that what the narrator calls perverseness is actually conscience. Guilt about his alcoholism seems to the narrator the perverseness which causes him to maim and kill the first cat. Guilt about those actions indirectly leads to the murder of his wife. The disclosure of the crime, as in The Tell-Tale Heart is caused by a warped sense of triumph and the conscience of the murderer. What makes this story different from The Tell-Tale Heart is that Poe has added a new elements aid in evoking the dark side of the narrator and that is the supernatural.
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