According to an analysis by G. R. Thompson, the story features a conflict constructed by Poe “between reason and irrationality” (qtd. in Timmerman). At the beginning of the story, Roderick suffered from “acute bodily illness” and “nervous agitation” which seem to be mostly self-inflicted. These then morph into “restrained hysteria in his whole demeanor” as his sanity decreases even more. Roderick starts to lose his grip on reality and slips even further into the clutches of fear and confusion.
He is known for his wonderfully twisted tales involving such characters as an unstable brother with a mysterious ailment (The Fall of the House of Usher,) a methodical murderer (The Tell-Tale Heart,) and an enraged, revenge seeking, homicidal maniac (The Cask of Amontillado.) Through analysis and citations of the tales listed above, in conjunction with the opinions of literary critics, the reader will clearly see the oft repeated theme of madness and insanity hard at work. Madness seems to inject itself into Poe’s tale, The Fall of the House of Usher, from the very beginning. The narrator of this tale begins by using extremely detailed comparisons and descriptions of the home of Roderick Usher, to relay the “insufferable gloom” and “utter depression of soul” (654) he feels when he first sees the place. He describes the outside, with its “vacant eye-like windows,” and “white trunks of decaying trees” (654).
Gothic literature is a twisted mind game for the reader – a roller coaster of frenzied emotions ranging from despondence to absolute terror, depending upon the fate of the character in the story. To deliver a resounding, deliberate emotional blow to the reader, the author puts us in the position of the main character, and then traps him in a series of inescapable misfortunes, thus trapping us in the same chaotic series of events. One of the most effective vessels used by Gothic writers to deliver this psychologically traumatic experience is to construct an innate hamartia within a character. A hamartia, or tragic flaw, is the single decisive flaw in a character’s personality that results in his ultimate downfall, defeat or death. In “A Tell-Tale Heart” and “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” the presence of an ingrained hamartia within a primary character elicits a consuming sense of fear and defeat in the reader by immersing him in the mind of the character.
In “The Tell Tale Heart” an anonymous narrator has a strange psychological disease, which causes him to fixate on an eye. Our storyteller sets out upon a quest to defend his sanity, making a vivid picture of the old man's eye, grotesque and vulture-like in nature; he further explains how it haunted him to the brink of insanity. “He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold--very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (1). In the narrator’s mind he sees the eye as being separate from the old man whom he loves; although in order to rid himself of the eye, the old man must die.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" is a great example of a story on the basic level of a gothic horror, in which the element of fear is evoked in its highest form. There are many different elements, such as setting, feelings, themes, and characters, that play an essential role in suggesting this. One of the greatest aspects of Poe's writings is that he makes the reader actually experience the feelings of his characters. As in many "scary stories" the characters start doubting themselves and those around them. Everyone has been in a situation where they know something is not quite right and immediately paranoia sets in.
Macbeth’s tragic downfall into insanity could be modernly diagnosed as the mental disorder schizophrenia. Many of the actions carried out by Macbeth during the play lead the reader to believe that Macbeth is crazy. However, by today’s medical standards, Macbeth falls into several of the categories under the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is defined as, "a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought, and conduct." In Act I Macbeth is very uneasy in his and Lady Macbeth’s decision to kill Duncan.
He suffers from a mental disorder which makes him obsessed with fear: fear of the past, of the house, of the dead. He finally dies, "victim... ... middle of paper ... ... for one week to achieve the perfect balance of suspense and terror in the "shower scene" of Psycho. They leave the viewer in suspense until the very end when the stories unfold. It is not until then that the audience understands fully the disturbed state of the main characters and the twisted plot of their stories. There are many similarities between Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock, in their themes, their methods for reaching the reader or spectator, and their fascination with the human mind and its complexities - their view of the world.
The slow descent into madness has long been a pertinent theme in both film and literature. A man with the semblance of sanity finding himself wrought by his madness as his rational faculty wanes and his actions become sadistic is not only fascinating but also unsettling. It is that unnerving element that makes it all so alluring, because madness, as 19th-century romantic writer Edgar Allan Poe has suggested through his works, is inherent in all of us; we’re all a little mad. Poe uses this slow descent into madness as a catalyst in his horror themed prose-tale, “The Tell-Tale Heart” to instill terror. This portrait of a psychotic personality Poe has created carried over on Hollywood films.
-it is the beating of his hideous heart!’” The narrator’s final descent into madness is the most terrifying part of the text, mainly because this can happen in real life. Mental disorders and diseases are a very real thing and it is very possible that what happened to the narrator could happen to anyone with the same or a similar disease as him. It is clear to the readers that Edgar Allen Poe used realistic events to increase the horror in The Tell-Tale
Knowing that he is damaged makes the narrato... ... middle of paper ... ... insecurity and paranoia. By leading us through an intricate maze of guilt and denial, Poe raises questions about what differentiates guilt from remorse. The audience begins to wonder if the fixation with the old man’s eye is in fact a cause of the madness or a result of the narrator’s inability to cope with his evil thoughts and the subsequent guilt that such thoughts derive. “The tell-tale heart” takes us through an incredible journey of discovery. By exploring the intrinsic nature of guilt, Poe shows us that without remorse and acceptance of responsibility the only possible result is a never ending cycle of projection, blame and denial that lead to madness.