"The Tell-Tale Heart," by Edger Allen Poe, and "The Open Boat," by Stephen Crane

Essay by stew36College, UndergraduateA+, November 2003

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As I read "The Tell-Tale Heart," by Edger Allen Poe, and "The Open Boat," by Stephen Crane, I was torn between the classic realism in "The Open Boat," and the atypical scenes from "The Tell-Tale Heart." Both stories, however, were very effective in keeping my interest and imagination running.

Stephen Crane gives a sense of realism to "The Open Boat" due to his real life tale of survival of a shipwreck on his way to Havana (Crane, p. 192). The detail of the scenery and waves, and the use of common everyday objects to describe the detail makes the story easier for the reader to picture. The reader feels as if (s)he were on the open seas. For example, when Crane was describing the size and movement of the boat, "Many a man ought to have a bathtub larger than the boat which here rode upon the sea" (p.

192), Crane went on later to say, "A seat in this boat was not unlike a seat upon a bucking broncho, and by the same token a broncho is not much smaller" (p. 193). Crane's description of the waves is also picturesque:

These waves were of the hue of slate, save for the tops, which were of foaming white, and all of the men know the colors of the sea. The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks. (p. 192)

I felt the most significant realism in the story, however, was the struggle the men had against nature to survive. In life we all struggle from time to time. It is at those moments that we realize that despite our continued efforts, we are at...