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Edgar Allan Poe’s Life Impact: “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 3594 words Published: 8th May 2017

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RUNNING HEAD: Edgar Allan Poe’s Life Impact on “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”1

Edgar Allan Poe’s Life Impact on “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”


Suspended in the mentality of a recognized madman lies the intellect and personal background to generate tales and poems. Classified as a morbid aspect to literature, Edgar Allan Poe shows an abundance of behavioral traits throughout his writing. Within two specific selections of writing, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”, a motif of irony draws out, along with emotional distress, and absurd mental decisions. From Poe’s life on his own, these psychotic ideas follow along with his hardships. Tragic events, such as death and rejection, influence Poe’s literary work, portraying through the loneliness of characters he writes about. Deterred minds, inhibiting psychological tribulations, formulate concepts and validations that, in reality, are considered hostile and grim. Through each memorable recollection, Edgar Allan Poe inserts his personal traumas into each of his literary works. The perception of a madman is deducted from his morbid writing, when in actuality, the bizarre stories are pulled from deep thought of emotional sorrow.

Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, morbid, psychology

Edgar Allan Poe’s Life Impact on “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”

In a world of chaos and madness, great minds are revealed through the tragedies of life. Morbid works of art or literature arise, hand-in-hand, with hardships, forming a dark interval in society. The madness behind one specific genius in literature is exposed through poems and short stories, displaying a state of psychosis and societal suffering. This madman is Edgar Allan Poe. Throughout the evolvement of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”, and short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, ironic measures are displayed, emotional torment is revealed, and irrational decisions transform sanity into psychosis, resulting from the pressures of society.

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In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the protagonist resides with an elderly gentleman who has never inflicted harm, in any way, against him. With this said, the main character decides to murder the older man. In the story, the murderous man goes to say “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye” (Poe, 1983). A blinded, grey eye triggers the motive of murder, with no rationalization. With no hate against the older man, murder appears as too much. The irony of this tale uncovers a psychological predicament within the sole character. As he figures there is no wrong to his actions, the main character believes the “disease had sharpened [his] senses — not destroyed — not dulled them” (Poe, 1983).

With the obvious wrongdoing, there is no remorse of homicide given from the perpetrator. Instead of regret or repentance, the madman, speaking to the reader, states “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work” (Poe, 1983). The caution taken during the heinous murder exploits the protagonist’s justification of his sanity. Pride consumes the murderer, steering him away from guilt, proceeding to reveal a psychological flaw the writer, Edgar Allan Poe, emphasizes. Upon arrest, psychotic tantrums of the mind reveal the truth behind the crime. As confessions uncover, the madman has become overwhelmed by his actions, continuing to hear the man’s heartbeat. This drives him to shout the affirmation of his crime; “the same craze that led him to kill the man is the same craze that led him to his demise” (St. Rosemary Educational Institution, 2014).

Irony, also portrayed in Poe’s poem “The Raven”, appears in the loneliness of a distraught heart. While living in a lonely dwelling, the main character is visited by a bird, specifically a raven. The coincidental bird strikes the interest of the protagonist by “tapping at [his] chamber door” (Poe, 2011). With a repetitive disturbance swatting his door, the protagonist checks multiple times, in hopes of it being his lost love. He is mistaken as each time it is just the raven. After several times of confrontation with the bird, the main character begins to stir crazy, expecting answers from the bird, as if it were human.

Delusional and mad, the man cries out to the raven, longing for answers, but receiving merely one response: “Quoth the raven, `Nevermore’” (Poe, 2011). The anger and rage caused by the innocent bird upon the lonely soul creates an irony in a sense that “his sorrow for his lost Lenore has already consumed him, even before the raven coincidentally arrives at his window. In his crazed loneliness, he manifests the bird into something more than an animal, creating a medium for him to channel his dreadful emotions into something other than himself” (Fling, N.D.).

Emotional diversity within “The Tell-Tale Heart” strikes during the back-and-forth considerations after manslaughter. The precise caution taken while proceeding with the murder of the elder man causes the main character to be consumed with joy; “I smiled, –for what had I to fear” (Poe, 1983). While dissembling the body, the murderer begins to hear the heartbeat of the old man. This turns the emotional contentment into panic. The panic drugs the murderer’s brain, clouding judgment more than what it originally was clouded. During a police encounter, the psychotic mindset takes over, forcing the murderous madman to, again, hear the heartbeat of the deceased mortal. The heartbeat drives him to confess his wrongful deed as a bellow of relief is audibly conceived; “’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, 1983). The confession frees the bizarre creature from his guilty body, creating an emotional commotion within the mind of the evil executioner.

Tormented by a reminder of his lost love, the protagonist in “The Raven” undergoes an emotional wrath created by his own mind. Alone and hurt, loneliness taunts him, causing emotional distress and chaotic thoughts. The “sorrow for the lost Lenore” in his own concentrations instigates the initiation of his heart wilting away like a flower, along with his sanity (Poe, 2011). Poe inscribes “The Raven” by utilizing the raven to symbolize the inability of man to hide, from or escape fate. This inevitable death is acknowledged by the narrator, triggering the flustered sentimental assortment throughout the poem. From the original curiosity of a stranger tapping upon a door, the proposed character automatically wishes for a changed fate, longing for the tapping to be his love. The agitation promoted by the reoccurrence of the tapping at the door divulges, and a demand is made by the speaker: “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’” (Poe, 1983). This demand is constructed from the broken heart of the man, crying out to rid himself of this unwanted, unexpected engagement with the bird. While inconsolable, the main character’s mental state begins to unravel. Emotionally unstable, and “with the mystery of the raven bringing the narrator full circle back to his deceased Lenore, he has officially lost his sanity with no help from anything but connections drawn in his own mind” (Fling, N.D.). The raven is there to remind the audience and protagonist of the unavoidable.

Irrational decisions conclude the entirety of the storyline in Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart”. With an illogical murder scene resulting in nonsensical justifications, a morbid aura assumes center stage of the short story. Internally, the absurdity of the tale appears insane and unjust. The precautions the main character goes through is said to justify a malicious act of murder. When speaking to the audience, the narrator ensures to extend reach to say that he is not crazy. “The narrator who is aware of what is it to be mad, but cannot bring himself to believe that he himself is insane. He believes that since he is able to recollect and present every detail of the events that took place proves that he is not insane. He believes that he is sane because of the manner in which he carried out the crime of murder” (St. Rosemary Educational Institution, 2014). The validation given by the main character shows the hypothetical justification someone who is insane might proceed to furnish for their crimes.

Edgar Allan Poe painfully drudged through rough and tragic events, impacting his literary work in many ways. Within his childhood, Edgar’s parents both unexpectedly perished, along with his older brother’s young death. Edgar was not so graciously “taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan of Richmond” (Poe Museum, 1922). From the age of three, Poe subsided with the Allan family, without choice. Growing up as a part of the Allan domain came to be one of the biggest effects on not only Poe’s life, but also his mentality in his writing. Throughout his life-span in the Allan home, much of his writing was not permitted by his adoptive father, Mr. Allan. “Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer” (Poe Museum, 1922).

Learning and understanding the requirements that lay before him, Poe had but one option. Staying out of trouble with his folk, Poe began following and obeying the desires of Mr. Allan. Poe applied to and attended his first semester of college. However, he was poverty-stricken as “the miserly Allan had sent Poe to college with less than a third of the money he needed, and Poe soon took up gambling to raise money to pay his expenses. By the end of his first term Poe was so desperately poor that he burned his furniture to keep warm” (Poe Museum, 1922). He left college and journeyed home. Once returned to Richmond, Poe continued experiencing his negative fate when he learned of the betrayal of his fiancée. Under the name of Elmira Royster, Poe’s first fiancée broke his heart as “she had become engaged to another man in Poe’s absence” (Poe Museum, 1922).

Rattled and upset, Poe abandoned the Allan household. Living on his own, he began to develop his literature career. After a couple of years away from the Allan residence, Poe received devastating news. Poe discovered that “the only mother he had ever known, was dying of tuberculosis” (Poe Museum, 1922). Distraught about his adoptive mother’s death, he and Mr. Allan decided to advance in a friendly manner. This, too, only lasted a short period of time, as Mr. Allan excluded Poe from future plans. After his greed-filled actions, Mr. Allan did not make it, and soon passed away.

Returning to life on his own, Poe began to excel into the publishing stage with a few pieces of his inscriptions. Within this time frame, Poe met the love of his life, Virginia Clemm. He married Virginia, fulfilling his happiness completely. Continuing to advance his career, Poe traveled to expand his audience. Although his occupational aspect of life was looking uphill, Poe sustained in the poverty level of life.

Conversely, “in the face of poverty Poe was still able to find solace at home with his wife and mother-in-law, but tragedy struck in 1842 when Poe’s wife contracted tuberculosis, the disease that had already claimed Poe’s mother, brother, and foster mother” (Poe Museum, 1922). Uprooting his home once again, Poe traveled again. Finding his ex-fiancée allowed Poe to manage through life again. Critics of Poe still suspected his health was in trouble. As suspected by many of his time, Poe was found dead not long after reconciling with Elmira Royster. After death, Poe’s works became more famous than they ever were while he needed them to be. The fact that he worked with irony in his literature depicts irony in itself that more of the population became interested in the writings after his passing on.

Edgar Allan Poe is known as quite a mysterious figure, as his cause of death remains unknown. His works reflect all of the negative darkness throughout his child and adulthood. While reflecting darkness, “his writings give off a dark and gloomy vibe – one that instigates feelings of doom for the protagonist” (Illinois State, N.D.). The ironic measures, emotional diversity, and irrational decisions made in Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, and poem “The Raven” obtain pieces of Edgar Allan Poe’s livelihood, resulting from the pressures of his society. The devastation and desolation within his being, while creating each work of art, revealed itself amidst each character inhabiting each short story or poem written by the wretched man. With the pressures of society clawing at the back of the literary genius at hand, Edgar Allan Poe left behind a legacy. His works take an audience to the emotional realization of life, while at the same time point out ironies of life. A psychologically insane manner of justice is presented, along with extremities of life and death. While Poe himself came across as a delusional oddity, his mental status enabled him to explore his soul and investigate his thoughts in a way that created a masterpiece within the binds of paper.

Works Cited

Fling, Jake. “Literary Analysis”. THE RAVEN by Edgar Allan Poe. Jake Fling. N.d. Web. 21 April 2014. <http://personal.psu.edu/jcf5074/literaryanalysis.html>

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Raven. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011. Print.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Tell-Tale Heart and other writings. Bantam Classics, 1983. Print.

St. Rosemary Educational Institution. “Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart: Summary & Analysis.” http://schoolworkhelper.net/. St. Rosemary Educational Institution. 2014. Web. 22 April 2014. <http://schoolworkhelper.net/edgar-allan-poe’s-the-tell- tale-heart-summary-analysis/.>

“Who is Edgar Allan Poe?” Poe’s Life. 2013. Web. 10 April 2014. <http://www.poemuseum.org /life.php>

Annotated Bibliography

Analyzing Poe’s Work Bibliographically and Psychologically. Illinois State. N.d. Academic

Journal PDF. 22 April 2014. <http://english.illinoisstate.edu/rlbroad/archive/teaching/


This academic source dates Poe’s work back to events that occurred in his life at each time. This biological analysis relates drastic events to the dramatic characters he wrote about.

This is a reliable source that has been reviewed by peers who are knowledgeable about mental analyses of Edgar Allan Poe.

Most of this source will not be used since there is so much to it, and a lot does not follow along with my topic. However, the incorporation of Poe’s life with his works does follow my topic.

Fling, Jake. “Literary Analysis”. THE RAVEN by Edgar Allan Poe. Jake Fling. N.d. Web. 21 April 2014. <http://personal.psu.edu/jcf5074/literaryanalysis.html>

In “The Raven”, the main character is reminded of his lost love when he encounters a confusing visit from a raven, tapping at his door.

The literary analysis given on this site goes into depth of the terms used by Edgar Allan Poe, explaining the heartache and despair the character goes through. This is a reliable site, as it evaluates the complicated literary usage in “The Raven”.

The analysis on this site shows the depression inflicted in the main character’s life and how it mentally controls him. This relates to the research paper in the fact that the agonizing heartache consumes the person suffering from it.

Giordano, Robert. “Remembering Dreams”. Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe. PoeStories.com. 2005. Web. 22 April 2014.< http://poestories.com/quotes.php>

The quote from “The Tell-Tale Heart” displayed on this site shows the irony of the murder in the short story.

Only this one quote from the entire entry fits into my research paper because it is the only quote from the story I have chosen to look into. However, the rest of the website itself is a very reliable source.

It is a research based site, containing information from experts on Edgar Allan Poe analysis sites.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Raven. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011. Print.

After losing his loved Lenore, the main character has a strange encounter with a raven. The bird swoops in, beating at his door, repeatedly saying “Nevermore”.

This shows the loneliness the main character must live with, without his Lenore. This work is a very reliable source, because it is the actual poem itself, written by Edgar Allan Poe.

There will be multiple quotes and pieces from this source used in the research paper.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Tell-Tale Heart and other writings. Bantam Classics, 1983. Print.

In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the main character has a contradictory idea to murder an older gentleman that has done no wrong to him. The motivating factor to his desire to kill the man is the fact that he has a glazed over, blind, eye. The narrator in the main character’s perspective explains a justification for this murder that to any other would classify as insanity.

This source is reliable because it is the actual poem written by Edgar Allan Poe.

The analysis of irony in the poem will be related to how madmen in the world try to justify their actions.

Quarles. The Raven. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Inc. 7 October 2011. Academic Journal. 22 April 2014. <http://www.eapoe.org/works/poems/ravena.htm>

Beginning with a publication introduction, following with “The Raven” and ending with a notes section, this source is a credible research based site.

The notes section is what I will be using this site for. Since this source is research based, the entire site is reliable.

The notes hold publication facts of “The Raven” and a brief overview of Edgar Allan Poe.

St. Rosemary Educational Institution. “Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart: Summary & Analysis.” http://schoolworkhelper.net/. St. Rosemary Educational Institution. 2014. Web. 22 April 2014. <http://schoolworkhelper.net/edgar-allan-poe’s-the-tell- tale-heart-summary-analysis>

This site starts with the summary of “The Tell-Tale Heart”, which is reliable because it is a condensed version of the poem. After the summary, an analysis of the psychology in the poem is given, explaining the paranoia and mental state the main character experiences.

This is the part of the site that I will take facts from for this research paper. It is reliable as it is also used as a reference for homework help.

It has been revised by other people knowledgeable in Edgar Allan Poe’s psychological diagnosis.

‘The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe’. Researchomatic. 2012. Web. 22 April 2014. < http://www.researchomatic.com/The-Tell-Tale-Heart-By-Edgar-Allan-Poe- 120749.html >.

Acknowledgement of Edgar Allan Poe’s use of irony in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is analyzed and explained throughout the article.

This is a reliable source because it is another research based written paper.

The irony in this source ties to the ironic measures I will address in my own paper. The main character tries to convince the reader that he is not wrong to commit murder. The way that the character tries to justify his actions will be analyzed as psychotic and slightly sadistic.

“Who is Edgar Allan Poe?” Poe’s Life. 2013. Web. 10 April 2014. <http://www.poemuseum.org /life.php>

Throughout Edgar Allan Poe’s life, he suffered loneliness and family death. Everything he ever faced allowed his mind to open up, giving him the material to construct brilliant works.

This site is a factual based source that obtains research from previous decades.

Containing a bibliography of Edgar Allan Poe, this source is reliable because each discussed topic is proven a fact about Poe’s tragic life.


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