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The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Of Allan Poe

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1612 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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An obsession can actually become disabling and all consuming to the patient experiencing it. The person’s thoughts will be intruded by “persistent and unwanted ideas” that can even turn hostile (“Obsessive”). Evidence from the short stories “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat” support that many of Poe’s narrators exhibit symptoms ofsuffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

An indicator of OCD is the repetition of undesired thoughts, ideas, or impulses. These ideas can become the only thing consume the person patient, can think about no matter how hard he or she tries not to avoid them. Sometimes Thethe patient mayerson realizes the obsessions are noaren’t reasonable, and try attempt to either stop or ignore them;, however,but that only increases their intensity of the obsession (“Obsessive”). A characteristic of Poe’s writing is has anis ability to bring out a “psychological obsession… in the human mind” (“The Tell-Tale Heart”) Furthermore, Kenneth Graham writes that, “Poe’s narrators [have a] unique single-mindedness and intensity… desire to kill, guilt, madness… and [are] narrowly obsessive.” Obsessions can consume the patient to the extant where he or she becomes aggressive towards them (“Obsessive”).Wilson and Lazzari comment on the old man’s eye in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and how it “bothers the narrator tremendously” (345). The narrator in “The Black Cat” can not “rid myself of the phantasm cat” (“The Black”). The narrators in these stories, “The Black Cat” and “The Tell- Tale Heart,” can not focus on anything except the destruction of their own obsession.

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The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” never wanted to hurt the old man, he loved the old man; however, he was completely consumed by the “cloudy film over one of the man’s eyes” (Wilson and Lazzari 345). Every time the old man would look at him, “my blood ran cold;” night he could not stop the ideas of his horror from the eye that fear that “haunted me day and night.” He thought about the “eye of a vulture” so often that he decided to murder the innocent man only to “rid myself of the eye forever.” For “seven long nights” he entered into the old man’s room determined to kill him if he saw thelooking for the “Evil Eye.” On the final day, (“The Tell-Tale Heart by”). he stood at the old man’s door “for a whole hour [and] did not move a muscle” watching for the for the old man’s “vulture eye” (“The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe”). The old man’s eye consumes the narrator against his the narrator’s will and he can do nothing else but obsess about the eye. to eventually take the life of the man to free himself of his obsession with the eye.

PlutoSimilarly, in “The Black Cat,” becomes an obsession to the narrator obsesses over Pluto, his cat. In the beginning, it was a good obsession, the narrator loveds the “large and beautiful” black cat and the cat is was his “favorite playmate” for many years. HeAfter the narrator started drinking, he even continued toonly showed love for only Pluto after he started drinking. However, he suddenly found the animal to be “peevish” and lashed out upon the poor creature as well. and had theHe began to have a compulsive desire for the cat to leave him alone. After Hhe hung theattempted to get rid of the “beast;” however, he still was not able to get the animal off of his mind., “For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat.” Not to mention, wWhen the narrator found another large, black cat, he automatically reminded thought of the similarities to Pluto. Instead of loving this cat as he originally did with Pluto, theHowever, this cat inspired uncontrollable “terror and horror” within the narrator; and again, all the narrator thought about was how he wanted to getting rid of the “hideous beast.” He spent four days looking to destroy for the cat after he missed and accidentally hit his wife with the axe after accidentally murdering his wife in the basement. The narrator has uncontrollable desires to love yet destroy rid himself of the “beautiful” yet “hideous” cat (“The Black”).

A person suffering from OCD may also experience “horrific or aggressive impulses.” (“Obsessive”).Furthermore, it will actually cause the patient distress and anxiety if he or she does not perform the acts (“Obsessive”). Poe’s narrators often believe that “there are uncontrollable forces which can drive people to commit violent acts” (Wilson and Lazzari 346). According to Kenneth Graham, many of Poe’s narrators have an “irrational urge to kill.”kill” and have a desire for destruction. The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” becomes so overwhelmed that he murders an innocent old man to “rid myself of the eye forever” (“The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe”). Furthermore, the narrator in “The Black Cat” not only beats and attempts to kill his favorite cat, Pluto.but he also murders his wife in the process (“The Black”).

The old man’s “blinded eye” in “The Tell-Tale Heart” (“The Tell-Tale Heart”) causes the narrator to “descend into madness” (Wilson and Lazzari 345) and eventually drives him to murder. The narrator obsesses about the eye so much that heand “grew furious as I gazed upon it.” His thoughts become soturned aggressive that and he “very gradually… made up my mind to take the life of the old man.” The narrator was so completely consumed that heand never had a even had a doubt about killing the old man who he loved so dearly.; right Right before the act he wrote, “Now you may think that I drew back — but no.” The narrator even goes as far as to describe his absolutely horrific thoughts right before he completes the act, “I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart.” (“The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe”). Kenneth Graham explains that the “physical death becomes a victory” for the narrator. The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart”­ breaks into an extremely horrific madness due to his own obsession with the old man’s eye (“The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe”).

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The narrator in “The Black Cat” admits that he had an “unfathomable longing… to offer violence to its own nature – to do wrong for the wrong’s sake only.”.” He The narrator also “grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, [and] more regardless of the feelings of others.” As this change in his attitude started to occurred he “not only neglected, but ill-used them [his pets]” and used “intemperate language to my wife.” He even went as far as to take took out a knife and “deliberately cut one of it’sits [Pluto, his cat] eyes from the socket.” Within the next few months, again, he grew aggravated and took Pluto outside and “slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree.” Even after After he findsfinding a new cat, which resembles and reminds him of Pluto, he felt animosity towards the animal, “I soon found a dislike to it arising within me.” and sSlowly his feelings of annoyance turned into “the bitterness of hatred” and from therethen transformed into “unutterable loathing.” The narrator started to loose control of his emotions completely and would experience “ungovernable outburst of a fury.” When trying to murder the new cat, his wife steps inWhen his wife attempts to the way to protect the animalcat from her husband’s axe, he experiences an outburst that is “more than demoniacal.” , and hHe experience one of his outburst that is “more than demoniacal” and he murdered her his wife without another thought and then tried to find and complete the murder of his pet. The narrator in “The Black Cat” experience uncontrollable, aggressive impulses that cause him to commit numerous acts of violence (“The Black”).

The obsessions that the narrators experience allow them to justify unreasonable murders. Kenneth Graham mentions that Poe “persuade[s] us more effectively, more dramatically, more humanly, of the reality of their nightmares.” Furthermore, that the readers almost feel the obsession that the narrators experiences and are taken in with the “doomed and damned figure” (Graham). The narrators in Poe’s short stories exhibit signs that they are suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. They experience repetitive desires for horrific murders. The narrator for “The Tell-Tale Heart” wanted to kill the old man over his “Evil Eye” (“The Tell-Tale Heart by”) and the narrator in “The Black Cat” tried to murder his cat twice over the cat’s affection for him and succeeded in the death of his wife (“The Black”).


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