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Author Question: Point to details in the story that identify its speaker as an unreliablenarrator. What will be an ... (Read 879 times)


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Point to details in the story that identify its speaker as an unreliablenarrator.
  What will be an ideal response?

Question 2

From what point of view is Poes story told? Why is this point of view particularly effective for The Tell-Tale Heart?
  What will be an ideal response?

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Answer to Question 1

  • The teller of Poes tale is a classic unreliable narrator. He is not deliberately trying to mislead his audience; he is delusional, and the reader can easily find the many places in the story where the narrators telling reveals his mistaken perceptions. His presentation is also deeply ironic: the insistence on his sanity puts his madness on display. The first paragraph alone, brief as it is, should provide fertile ground for students sent to find evidence of his severe disturbance. This passage should clinch the point all by itself: I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. From there, you can lead the class into a discussion of the subsequent manifestations of his madnesshis perception of the old mans eye as a thing in itself, independent of its admittedly benevolent possessor; his extreme attention to details and matters that others could find insignificant; his fixation on a single objective for an insanely long period of time; his need to flaunt his brilliance, even if only to himself, by inviting the police into the house; and so on.

Answer to Question 2

  • The story has a first-person narrator, the man who lives with and murders the inoffensive old man. Edgar Allan Poe paid very careful attention to the technical details of his stories. He knew that craft led to effects, so he planned every detail of his stories from theme to character to point of view. As Daniel Hoffman shows in his highly personal and deeply stimulating Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe (1973), The Tell-Tale Heart wouldnt be half as effective without the madman himself as its narrator. Indeed, its climax would not occur without that point-of-view choice. An omniscient narrator in this case might reveal the mysteries that give the story its power (the idea that the dead man is in fact the narrators father, as Hoffman suggests; the paranoia of the narrator would also be moot for an omniscient voice). Demonstrations of the narrators imbalance come at the very beginning of the story, and they provide the context in which we will evaluate everything else that he says and does.


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Reply 2 on: Jul 20, 2018
Great answer, keep it coming :)


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Reply 3 on: Yesterday
YES! Correct, THANKS for helping me on my review


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