Poe and His Depictions of Madness

Essay by rbaker27University, Bachelor's October 2014

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Rachael Baker

A Murderer's Mind: Poe's tales of Madness

Edgar Allan Poe is known as one of the masters of gothic literature, often times using murder and insanity as themes in his short stories. His stories put you into a mindset that you would probably never experience and could also leave you wanting to keep a light on at night. With further examination of many of his tales you can find similarities and also differences in the way he portrays human evil. Narrowing down the focus to just "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Black Cat" it is found that they have similar themes of madness and murder but there are also differences in the way that they are presented.

These two stories are similar in many ways, some more obvious and some that you have to dig a little deeper to find. Let's begin with some of the more obvious similarities, both stories are told from the mind of the murderer and presented in a flashback.

Both narrators start off with the adamant fact that they are not mad. In "The Tell-Tale Heart" the narrator says "How, then, am I mad? ... Observe how healthily-how calmly I can tell you the whole story." He believes that since he planned out and organized his murder in such a way that there is no way that he could be mad. In "The Black Cat" the narrator begins by saying "I neither expect nor solicit belief … Yet, mad I am not" It seems as if he is trying to make sense of the events that happened but he has already ruled out the fact that he could be mad. Another similar characteristic between the two narrators is that they both kill someone that they claim to love. The...