Macbeth and The Tell-Tale Heart Comparative Essay

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William Shakespeare once said “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.¬” In both Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Edgar Allan Poe`s The Tell-Tale Heart the main characters have an inevitable drive--a compulsion--to murder. The elements of the stories suggest that Poe had Shakespeare`s era of writing in mind when he was writing The Tell-Tale Heart. There are many similarities in these stories, from the lack of passion in the murders to the use of crickets to mask the sound. Where there are similarities there are differences, in this case in the resemblance of blood, one murder sees imaginary stains, while the other sees no evidence of his crime. Both men try to rationalize what they did with kindness, but in the end guilt and hallucinations get the best of them. A motive is a reason for doing something, one that is usually hidden or not obvious. Both Macbeth and the main character of The Tell-Tale Heart have different motives for committing similar crimes. Macbeth is driven by supernatural beings (the witches,) and even though he is reluctant to participate in his own fate, Lady Macbeth pressures him to do what “needs to be done.” The narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart has no motive for his intended crime--not hatred, not money. He states that his motive is "his eye," of all silly and mad things, and ultimately it is the narrator himself who propels himself towards the conclusion. Once the goal of murder is established in each, the story then unfolds around the predicted murder. Both stories are a dramatic exploration into moral and psychological problems of people during that period. Both Poe and Shakespeare use foreshadowing to inform the reader that something is about to take place. In The Tell-Tale Heart the narrator says “there cam... ... middle of paper ... ...The narrator makes a remark about the lack of blood anywhere in the house even though a body was dismembered; Macbeth says there is enough blood on his hands to make an ocean red. One murder sees imaginary stains, while the other sees no evidence of his crime. It’s obvious that there are more similarities than differences in Macbeth and The Tell-Tale Heart. Some might even say that Edgar Allan Poe incorporated the elements of fiction that Shakespeare utilized in the Elizabethan Age of writing. The concepts of these stories are very similar; but guilt ultimately gets the best of them in the end. They both try to rationalize what they did, but it doesn’t seem to work. When it gets down to the message the writers were trying to get across, it’s the same. No matter how hard you try to rationalize something, if it’s wrong the guilt will eventually get the best of you.

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