A Critical Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is an elaborate writer belonging to the 19th century. His interpretation of human desires drips with dramatic realism, clawing its way into the darkest corners of our own souls. Poe believed that in everyone prowls the potential to perpetrate illogical and horrendous deeds, and that within every minute lies the possibility for sanity to fail and evil to take over. His morbid poems and short stories delve into the mystery and madness of the human mind. The haunting theme of insanity, irrationality, and death that portray many of Poe’s works is nothing if not powerful. The dangers of these dreadful forces are anything but meek, although Poe dramatizes the effects and makes every outcome extreme. The message he sends to all of us is meant to stay with us, to infect our minds, and to keep us up in the dead of the night. His recurring theme is addressed in the short stories “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Oval Portrait.”
Irrationality is shown in no story more than in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The equal feelings of love and hate drive the narrator to the brink of insanity, until one night he loses all rationality and murders someone he very much adored. His absolute loathing for one of the old man’s eyes is developed over time while living with the old man. His first step towards irrationality is when he begins to see the eye as a thing separate from the old man. The walk down this illogical path ends when the narrator denounces the eye as evil, and decides to kill the old man to rid himself of the eye. In example, the narrator states, “I loved the old man…I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever”(Poe 445). And yet throughout the short story, the narrator assures us of his complete sanity.
Insanity, however, is just what Poe tried to convey in his work. In the short story “The Black Cat,” Poe shows us the slow descent of a man into madness....