Imagine apparent extremely early on in the

Imagine if you would, a constant feeling of dread, shame and emotional pain and strife, and all of these feelings stemming from your father of all people. A broken man once wrote a story where a man falls into insanity as he feels more and more that a friendly, innocent old man’s eye is evil, He believes it is staring into his soul and that it is judging everything he does. He ends up killing the old man only to lose his last spark of sanity and admit that he commited the murder. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the Biographical Theory assists the reader in concluding that, the negative relationship that Poe had with his adoptive father caused the dark events in this story to be written. This conclusion is significant because the narrator has a broken mind, he spirals out of control due to the condescending gaze, and eventually murders a representation of Poe’s father figure. It is very apparent extremely early on in the story that the narrator has a broken mind similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s. The evidence of this is present very early on as the narrator begins to explain his story. “It is impossible to tell how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me.” (Poe) This proves that even before the reader is aware of the narrators intentions, that he is planning something insane and sinister against the old man, which Johnson 2connects the state of Poe’s mind to the story. Even before this the narrator attempts to defend himself, without even starting the story. He states “I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.” (Poe) The unwarranted defensiveness of this statement proves the broken state of the narrators psyche and in turn show how Edgar Allan Poe could have been feeling while writing this piece. It can also show the extent of the break in psyche when taking a look at the beginning of the statement where he says he heard things in hell. This paranoid, broken mind of the narrator can easily reflect Poe’s deep personal thoughts and emotions. The narrator has a quick downward spiral out of control due to the condescending gaze of the old man’s eye. The narrator quickly delves into his feelings for the eye and why he believes it to be evil. “One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually — I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.” (Poe) When analyzing with the Biographical Criticism it becomes very obvious, very quickly that this “vulture eye” represents the way Poe’s father criticized him in his work and school life, this also marks the point of no return for his downward spiral. On the eighth consecutive night of maliciously watching the old man and waiting for the eye to open, the narrator finally takes his chance. During this event the narrator explains that “I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down.” (Poe) This quote proves to the reader how dedicated the narrator is to ending the eye’s gaze upon him. This reflects how Poe wished to be accepted and for the criticism in his life to end. This spiral deeper into insanity not Johnson 3only causes the final decisions of the narrator but also shows how hurt Poe felt from his father’s view of him. In the final moments of the story the narrator murders the representation of Poe’s adoptive father only to go completely insane from the guilt of the murders. Taking place directly after the murder of the old  man the narrator takes a while to take in what he has done and what it will mean for him now that it is over. “Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.” (Poe) This displays the relief that the narrator, who represents Poe himself, feels once the condescending eye is off of him. However, he does not take into consideration the fact that he killed a completely innocent man who he had cared for. Although soon after this, the true guilt seeps in and it is extreme when the police come to investigate a claim of screaming at the narrator’s residence. “I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! — and now — again! — hark! louder! louder! louder! “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart!” (Poe) This quote shows the immense guilt that Poe would feel if an innocent person who cared about him died due to his actions. This event very much symbolises the guilt and shame Poe would feel even though the pain he felt from the criticism was so great. Poe was a very broken man, with death playing a huge role in his life. He was constantly bombarded with criticism, especially from his adventure father. Which can be directly linked to this story. This idea of his life influence his writing can also be seen with more than just his father. For example the narrator panics when he thinks the police are laughing at him and Johnson 4criticising him, similar to Poe’s real life reactions to criticism. This text and many others written by Poe can be analyzed with the Biographical Criticism which is important to understanding that the life of Edgar Allan Poe is a primary driving force in all of his writing.


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