Paper 3: Romanticism and Transcendentalism’s Respondents

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In the three works, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, by Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson’s poems 340 (“I -felt a funeral in my brain”) and 355 (“It was not Death”), each display different aspects of the depths of the human mind through similar modes of rhetorical sensory overload. While Poe reveals the effects of denying one’s insanity, Dickinson displays the struggle and downfall of a depressed mind.
Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” depicts the human mind through the struggle of distinguishing reality and imaginary. Poe utilizes the narrator/agonist to demonstrate how the suffering of one’s perceived acuteness of senses, in relation to anxiety, leads to an unwanted culmination. The narrator labels his own nervous behavior as “disease” that has “sharpened [his] senses” (691). Poe’s use of “disease,” indicates disorder and destruction, and also foreshadows the spread and consumption of the narrator’s fear. The confidence that results from the narrator’s justified senses proves to draw him further from his own morality. By example, he states, Moreover, his senses stem from his overarching obsession and hatred for the old man’s eye. This is demonstrated by his continued distinct characteristics he places on the eye—“eye of a vulture,” “pale blue eye,” “Evil Eye,” and “damned spot” (691-693). The collection of descriptions throughout his efforts to kill the old man shows the torment he suffers from his psychosis. The narrator’s statement, “it haunted me day and night,” displays his motivation for killing the old man. However, the significance of the narrator actually committing the murderous act demonstrates the definitive loss of his rationality and morality. Poe displays, that the dark side of the mind is a result of this los...

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...e veil from their faces,” illustrates the obsession the townspeople possess which diverts their possible reflection and understanding of their own sin symbolized in the black veil of the minister. Additionally, the minister seems to carry the burden/sins of his townspeople, and so does Goodman Brown, in the sense that he perceives and imagines everyone’s sin brought forth before his eyes. Because Goodman Brown allowed his negative opinion of others to dominate his life, “his dying hour was gloom” (Hawthorne 395). The significance of his end demonstrates his inability to accept sin as a part of human nature. The culmination of sin demonstrated in both works displays sin’s overwhelming power to control a human being. Hawthorne proves one cannot consider themselves more righteous because their own accusations and passing of judgment of someone else is thus sin itself.

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