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Edgar Allan Poe and the Lie Behind the Eye

            Edgar Allan Poe, a man that some may describe as brilliantly insane, is one of the most popular American authors from the 19th Century. The characters that I have chosen to analyze are in Poe's story 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Poe writes of a nameless, murderous mad man that leaves readers wondering if he is really mad or if he just has the desire to destroy the very ugly evil thing that haunts him. .
             Poe opens this twisted story with psychoanalytic criticism posing the question, "but why will you say that I am mad? The disease has sharpened my senses-not destroyed-not dulled them." He goes on to say, "I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?" (Poe 74). When I read this passage, immediately I started to question the mental state of the character in the story. I wondered if he was truly crazy or if he was in complete control of his actions. Because of Poe's sinister writing style, I was instantly grabbed by this story and questioned Poe's mental state at the time he wrote the 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Was this a metaphor for an ugly evil thing in his life? Poe himself was described as manic, yet brilliant, similar to the mad man in the story. .
             In the second paragraph of this dark story, Poe uses Formalist and Marxist criticism. "It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brainit haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this" (Poe 74). As the story begins, the mad man seems completely insane questioning the dark thoughts of murder that enter his mind and then embracing them. The old man's eye is a murderous trigger, instantly focusing the mad man on his object with passion. The example of Marxist criticism comes in when Poe writes, "He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire" (Poe 74).

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