The topic of this research paper is to attempt to explain the writing styles and writing techniques used by of one of the most famous American short-story writer, author, and poet, Edgar Allan Poe. This paper will also discuss why when Poe writes most of his short stories or poems, he chooses to write them in the first person point of view of the narrator or main character of the story.
It will discuss that Poe chooses to write like this because it allows the reader to better understand what is going on in the narrator’s mind, an effect that is otherwise unattainable if he writes it in any other point of view or in the first person point-of-view of any other character in the story. If he writes it in the third person point of view, his stories would make much less sense to the reader, consequently making the reader lose a lot of the horror he, or she, experienced.
It will also attempt to explain the way Poe writes in first person point of view of an unnamed narrator to make the reader imagine himself, or herself, in the situation of the narrator. Imagine Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” written from the perspective of that frightening and mysterious raven, or “The Tell-Tale Heart” told by the police officers. Surely this point of view would exponentially dull these stories. Typically, Poe chose first person point of view, using several internal monologues through his narrators to give the reader an understanding of what the narrator is thinking.
For example, in “The Cask of Amontillado,” Poe realized that the viewpoint must be from Montresor, considering that if he had chosen to tell his story through the victim, Fortunato, it would no doubt have lost its effective, memorable qualities. Without Montresor as the narrator, this dark tale would possess no true clarity, would forfeit its chilling suspense, and would fail to offer the reader a valid understanding of Montresor’s conniving and slightly disturbing mind. Montresor is clearly deranged and twisted.
However, Poe ensures that he is still competent enough to clearly relate the events of the fateful night of the story. Poe carefully crafted this short story to offer the reader a heavy element of suspense from its beginning, suspense that relies greatly upon the inner thoughts and brutal planning of Montresor. Poe writes “The Tell-Tale Heart” from the perspective of the murderer of the old man, who was a nameless, genderless narrator. When an author creates a situation where the protagonist tells a personal justification of his, or her, actions, the overall impact of the story is greatly heightened.
The narrator, in this particular story, adds to the overall effect of horror by repetitively stressing to the reader that he or she is not mad, and tries to convince the reader of that fact by how carefully and perfectly this brutal crime was planned out and executed. The crime in this story is a case of domestic violence that occurs as the result of an irrational fear. To the narrator, that fear is represented by the old man’s eye which the narrator truly believes is pure “evil” whereas he or she has no negative feelings toward the old man, only his “evil” eye.
Human nature contains a delicate balance of light and dark or good and evil. Most of the time, this hazardous balance is kept in balance, however, when there is a shift, for whatever reason, the dark or perverse side of the human nature reveals itself. How and why this “dark side” emerges differs from person to person. In this case, it is the “evil” eye of the old man that, quite frankly, scares the shit out of the narrator. It is this irrational fear which evokes the dark side, and eventually leads to murder.
The narrator plans, executes and conceals the crime (by dismembering the body and hiding it under the floorboards) without even the slightest fault. When two police officers come to inspect the source of the blood-curdling, midnight scream the narrator calmly invites them in for tea and explains that the scream was his, or her, own as the result of a terrible nightmare. The narrator continues to converse with the police officers while wearing a slight grin almost as if to flaunt his or her victory because, unbeknownst to the officers, they were sitting on top of the very location where the narrator has hidden the old man’s body.
However, after a few minutes the narrator suddenly begins to hear a strange noise which he or she describes as similar to the low clicking of a clock. As the noise gradually gets louder and louder and the narrator realizes that the noise is, in fact, the beating of the old man’s heart. The narrator begins to frantically worry about getting found out as he or she figures the police officers can certainly hear it, but they cannot.
As the noise grows even louder the narrator grows ever more frantic until eventually he, or she, completely breaks down and screams in absolute terror that he, or she, has committed the crime and that the body is right there under the floorboards. All of these occurrences are evidence that the narrator is actually mad, at least to a certain extent. Consequently, all of these events would have been entirely lost if the story was told in the third person point-of-view or in the first person point-of-view of any other character.
In conclusion, Edgar Allan Poe is widely known for his unique, super effective, and revolutionary writing techniques that put every reader into not only the shoes of the narrator, but also directly into the narrator’s very psychiatric condition.
Dollak, Amanda. “Poe’s Crucial Choice of Point of View in The Cask of Amontillado. ” Associated Content from Yahoo! – Associatedcontent. com. Web. 24 Jan. 2011. Womack, Martha. “”The Tell-Tale Heart”” The Poe Decoder. Ed. Christoffer Hallqvist. 12 Apr. 2001. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.