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Poes The Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher

Perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Poe's work is that of fear. Michael Burduck states that Poe explores areas of "pain, decay, and terror" to entertain his readers and "enlighten the dark tunnels of human life" (Burduck 102). He also states, "Poe prefers to scare his audience from within" (105). Tales must also "spellbind and capture the audience's complete attention" (105). Additionally, the theme of death occurs just as much in Poe's writing as fear. In fact, J. Gerald Kennedy notes that with Poe, we find a writer "whose entire oeuvre is marked by a compulsive interest in the dimensionality of death" (Kennedy 92). Two stories that fulfill this requirement are "The Tell-tale Heart" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." Both stories fill us with fear because they illustrate the sometimes- hideous nature of man. We become terrified in "The Tell-Tale Heart" because we see a devious madman who is crazy enough to kill an old man because of his so-called evil eye. "The Fall of the House of Usher" is frightening because we witness how quickly one can become consumed with madness. Madness is also a recurring theme in Poe's tales. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator tells us at the beginning of the story that he is not a madman. He takes pride in his accomplishments and declares that a madman would have never been able to devise such a scheme. We quickly question his statement when he tells us that he was "never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him" (Poe The Tell-Tale Heart 189). However, by the end of the story, the narrator cannot escape the terrible sound of the beating heart. He becomes nervous and begins to pace as the noise increases. He begins to question his own sanity when he wonders if the officers do not hear the sound. In "The Fall of the House of Usher," the narrator seems to be perfectly sane at the beginning of the story. "The Fall of t...

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Poes The Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:07, July 02, 2015, from