Comparing Tell Tale Heart and The Black Cat

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Tell Tale Heart and The Black Cat.


The two short stories that I have chosen by Edgar Allan Poe are The Tell Tale Heart and The Black Cat.  These two stories in particular have many things in common as far as technique goes, but they do have some significant differences between the two.  In this paper I will try to compare and contrast these two short stories and hopefully bring something to the readers attention that wasn't there at first.


        One of the main differences in these two short stories is the way in which the reader finds out the ending of the stories.  In The Black Cat the reader finds out the ending of the story in the traditional format. At the end of the short story. However, in The Tell Tale Heart the reader knows the ending at the very beginning of the story.  An advantage of having the story come full circle is that it allows the reader to try and focus on other aspects of the story such as why and how. Poe makes the ending very clear to the reader, in doing this he makes the reader read with anticipation.  The anticipation that is created makes the story more enjoyable.  The Black Cat is written in the more traditional sense, which has its advantages as well. A traditional way of writing is having the story flow from beginning to end.  Poe is able to develop the characters as the story goes along and of course by not knowing the ending the story is full of surprises that make it unpredictable.


        Another difference in technique that Poe uses between the two short stories is the way that the anger in placed.  In The Tell Tale Heart the main character's anger is placed on the direct object of whom he has problem with, but in The Black Cat the main character chooses to displace his anger on to an animal whom he had no prior qualms with.  I think what Poe was trying to convey was that sometimes our anger is directed at the things that really can't fight back, in a normal circumstance (in the story there were supernatural aspects with would not occur in a normal environment).  As we read the story and see how the man is displacing his anger we realize that at one time or another we have all done this. Poe exploits this anger for all it is worth, he make the reader get involved without the reader even knowing it.


        The short stories have many things in common with one another.  They both are the same types of scary twisted story with the Edgar Allen Poe trademark of twisted justice. The two stories are told in the first person.  This gives the reader a little insight of what is going on in the heads of the main character. In stories with very twisted characters such as Poes this can be very useful if not essential.  From an entertainment perspective the first person angle gets the reader involved in every moment of the characters life.  As a reader reading the story in the first person you even sometimes find yourself speaking to the characters.


        A key feature in the beginning of each of the stores is the opening of both.  They both open with the main character giving an update of their life to date.  This gives the reader a quick overview of who the story is about and where they are coming from.  The end of each of the stories is twisted.  They both make the reader think to themselves wondering, "what the hell just happened here."  Poe is able to make the end of his two stories shocking.  Both of the characters incriminate themselves in each of their stories.  Is Poe using this to try and teach us a lesson about our own conscious?


Fear this is the most powerful of all the techniques used by Poe.  Poe seems to be a master at it. He is able to draw up a whole story that is all based on fear.  Fear is what makes Poe's writing classic and unforgettable.




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