Point of view in The Tell-Tale Heart

Point of view in The Tell-Tale Heart

Compare and contrast the narrator’s point of view at the beginning to the end of the story. Note any differences and the possible causes behind these differences.

In “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator’s use of point of view in which he tells the story slightly changes from the beginning to the end. There are both similarities and differences in his choices at the beginning and at the end, and these are all resulted in the changes in the narrator’s mood.

In the beginning, the narrator uses first person point of view, for example: “I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in the hell.” Similarly, at the end of the story, the narrator also uses first person point of view: “I felt that I must scream or die!” The narrator uses first person point of view as the main perspective throughout the story because he is talking about his own experiences and expressing his personal inner feelings. In contrary, while the narrator always uses first person point of view at the end of the story, he uses some third person point of view at the beginning, for example, “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing.” and “Ha! — would a madman have been so wise as this?” In these sentences, the narrator refers himself as “madmen” and comments on himself, whereas near the end of the story, there were no such comments.

A few possible causes for the differences in the point of view used in the beginning and the end of the story includes the change of the narrator’s mood and feelings throughout the story. The choice of third person point of view in the beginning of the story could be caused by the narrator’s confidence, rationality, and his will of persuading others. The confidence of the narrator is illustrated as he said: “You should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded.” Here, the narrator provides details and evidences of when he secretly went into the old man’s house and committed the crime. He proudly tries to prove that he was extremely careful, thoughtful and not mad at the time. At the same time, the narrator attempts to be persuasive the readers through the continuous use of rhetorical questions. For instance, “but why will you say that I am mad?”, and “why will you say I am mad?”. The continuous uses of rhetorical questions have allowed the narrator to reinforce the idea that the narrator thinks that he himself is not mad. On the other hand, the end of the story portrays the narrator has an irritable and impetuous figure. This is mainly done through the short sentence structure and the repetition in the use of exclamation marks: “I felt that I must scream or die! — and now — again! — hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!” These sentences have demonstrated that the narrator is no doubt getting frantic, mad, frightened due to the heartbeat inside his own mind and his guilt after killing the old man. As a result of the changes in the narrator’s mood, there are differences in the use of point of view throughout the story.

As a conclusion, in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator’s use of point of view in which he tells the story slightly changes from the beginning to the end due to the changes in his moods.

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