Edgar Allan Poe Elements of Suspense

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Elements of Suspense Becki Cox The literary genre known as horror has intrigued readers' for centuries. One of the masters of horror, Edgar Allan Poe, uses many elements to horrify and captivate his audience. These elements include sense of sight, and sense of hearing. In the stories "The Tell Tale Heart," and "The Pit and the Pendulum," Poe uses the above elements to add suspense, and meaning to the theme of each tale. Edgar Allan Poe uses the theme of eyes, and the loss of sight in "The Tell Tale Heart," and The "Pit and the Pendulum," but in dissimilar ways. For example, in "The Tell Tale Heart," an anonymous narrator kills an old man. The narrator's motive was the old man's "vexing eye." The eye was described as follows: "[the eye] resembled that of vulture-a pale blue eye, with a film over it." The narrator had nothing against the old man, but his eye was so repulsive to his assassin, that the only way it could be dealt with is by destroying the old man. The narrator explains how he crept into the old man's room, and proceeded to kill the old man. The motive for murder is reinstated in this quote: "I grew furious as I gazed upon [the eye]. I saw it with perfect distinctness-all a dull blue, with a hideou Continue...


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The narrators loss of sight again creates suspense. Part of the success of his tales is his ability to create suspense, and "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Tell Tale Heart" are excellent examples of this ability. The most suspenseful point in "The Tell Tale Heart" was when the narrator begins to hear the old mans heart. " This definitely impacts the reader, because the only way this man can realize his surroundings is by relying on his other senses. At one point, the narrator thinks its so loud, that he is worried it will wake the neighbors. Sound is used as the unfortunate downfall of the narrator, rather than as a way to explain setting, in The Tell Tale Heart. At the end of the story, the narrator heard the old man's heart beating underneath the floor boards which he was buried. The narrator describes the dark vault were he is held in the following quote: " My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. This quote describes how deep the pit was: "For many seconds I hearkened to its reverberations as it dashed against the sides of the chasm in its descent; at length, there was a sullen plunge into water, succeeded by loud echoes. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. If he were able to see, there would be no reason for him to know how deep the pit was. This adds to the suspense of the story, because at this point the captor begins to deals with his fate. my eyes straining from their sockets in the hope of catching some faint ray of light. Obviously, without the use of the sense of hearing, the story loses much of its suspense.