“Suddenly I knew that the sound was not in my ears, it was not just inside my head. At that moment I must have become quite white.” The-Tell-Tale-Heart, written by Edgar Allan Poe, is a short story that demonstrates many different elements of gothic fiction. Edgar does this through the protagonist that tries convincing the reader he is indeed sane but it quickly becomes clear to the reader that the man is, in fact, insane based off his actions towards the old man. His actions were a success as his plan of getting rid of the “vulture” eye of the old man, worked. The police investigate him but it was his insanity that eventually drove him to confession of the murder. His actions were far from what most people’s response would be, proving that he is driven by emotions rather than logic. This is scary because it makes the protagonist unpredictable and reckless.

A person whose insanity results in a determined belief in the voices or sounds inside their head over rationality is dangerous to cross. This is because they are not usually thinking with their head, rather their heart. When people act purely from what their heart tells them and ignores everything their head is saying, it can go very wrong. It’s hard to predict what the person might do because nobody can truly understand how another is feeling, making this insanity very unpredictable and dangerous. The protagonist in the story was ill but forcefully denied this was a bad thing.  He believed that “the illness only made my mind, my feelings, my senses stronger, more powerful”. However, I believe that not everything in this statement is incorrect because his feelings are increased but not in a positive way. The stronger his feelings, the more he will act based off these negative, manipulative and obsessive feelings, rather than acting as any sane person that would know the difference from right and wrong. From the illness, the man feels he has power and is in a better shape now than ever, showing the reader that it’s even more likely that he will do something irrational. The reader is left to wait and see what these dangerous feelings will do and how much ‘power’ he truly has. It became clear later in the story that the man had no power in comparison to the voices and noises he was hearing. “I was suffering more than I could bear, from their smiles, and from that sound. Louder, louder, louder!…why does that heart not stop beating?” The sound of the heartbeat was so controlling and overwhelming that the man had no choice but to give in to it, this could only be done by confessing to the murder. He gave up on his mission, the goal he had worked so hard for because of the noises, the illness and his overload of emotional investment. This idea of how you react and control your emotions can be very relatable to everybody, in many different circumstances. For teenagers, we can understand how he must be feeling whilst getting ready for an exam. Emotions explode within us, be it fear, excitement, confusion or even anger but we must sustain them and try to act normal. Voices and sounds also enter our heads, voices of our own reassurance or doubt, our teachers words or parents and like the man in the story, the sound of a heartbeat takes over. However, we can only hear our own heart beating as if it will pop out of our chest. In order to do our best in the exam, emotions must wait and knowledge needs to stand out. Sanity is what allows us to do this. This is the difference between someone like me and the man in the story, I have more control over my thoughts and know when it’s time to use logic. If I didn’t, I would give up trying in exams, not attempt the papers because of fear or give up after reading the questions. Proven by the man’s case, he was taken over by his feelings, gave up on his successful murder making all the hard work, wasted.

From reading The-Tell-Tale-Heart, I have learnt that in pressurising positions, it is important to follow both your heart and head. Make decisions based off how you feel but to always think before you act, otherwise there will be consequences.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hey Kate,

    Thanks for getting your response in on time to receive feedback.

    You have a clear understanding of the dramatic and emotional nature of the gothic protagonist and have used relevant evidence in your response.

    A couple of things to think about:

    – Avoid circular comments.
    – Your connection about the exams and the narrator is not your strongest moment. I think the two things are very different. There are stronger ways to make a personal response to the text and the gothic elements being presented (think about social and historical context, the authors intention- what response are they trying to elicit from the reader etc.)

    Mrs. P


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