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Characterization: The Tell-Tale Heart

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Characterization: The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allan Poe’s use of character in his short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” has left me wondering. The reason it left me wondering is because of the way the character acts. The character changes throughout the whole short story.

The meaning of “character” is an imagined person in a fictional story. The author then invests the character with moral and emotional qualities. The importance of the character is determined by what he or she does. The main character as well as the minor characters are not identified by names. This particular short story is written in the past tense. The nameless character basically narrates the events that have already occurred.

There are many characters in this short story. There is the old man with the blue eye with the film over it, the caretaker, and the three police officers. The main character referres to his eye “that of a vulture” (par.1). The caretaker is the main character who commits the murder of the old man, and everyone else are minor characters. The reason this story left me wondering is because of the way the caretaker acts throughout. Even from the beginning the caretaker defends his sanity instead of his innocence, which to me is strange because throughout the whole story I thought that he was insane as well as guilty. The caretaker says, “But why will you say that I am mad?” (par.1). The caretaker further adds:

I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthy-how calmly, I can tell you the whole story (Par.1).

A few things we know about the caretaker is that the caretaker was obsessed with the old man’s blue eye that had film over it. Basically the caretaker acts in a dynamic way. During the course of the story, the caretaker changes in significant ways and because of that it also left me wondering. The caretaker explained that for eight nights in a row he would go into the old man’s room very slowly and watch him sleep. I started to think that the caretaker was insane when he finally got the courage to kill the old man and cut his body into pieces to shove under the floorboards. One of the biggest reasons I thought that the caretaker was insane was because before and while the caretaker was killing the old man, he claimed to hear the old man’s heart beat out loud.

The way the caretaker acts clearly shows that he’s a round character because his mind

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