In many of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories, a reader can encounter with many similarities of style and technique. In this paper, I am going to state the similarities of The Black Cat and Tell-Tale Heart to understand Poe style in short stories. To start with, in both of the stories, the setting is jail because the main characters of two stories are criminals. Such an entrance to the stories enables the reader’s attention to be more attracted and with the introduction parts, Poe aims to arouse wonder in the reader’s minds.
The main story is told with flashback technique, which is typical of Edgar Allen Poe (Womack). To illustrate another analogy, I am going to give some information about the point of view of the stories. In both of the stories, first person narration technique is used. To understand Poe’s style better, it is essential to look out the reason of why Poe especially chose this narration style. Is it a coincidence or Poe deliberately directed his story with a first person narrator? For a few reasons, I can say that Edgar Allen Poe especially in both of the stories used this technique.
His main aim is to create a discrepancy between what the reader perceives and what the narrator tells. In The Black Cat, for example, the narrator says that he does not believe in superstitions; however, what he does contradicts with what he says. Poe by using this technique shows that his character is telling lies about himself. The narrator’s self-denial is presented to the reader with a hidden way (Womack). The ironic tone in which the narrator tells the story makes the reader to think just the opposite of what he said (Robinson,369).
About this issue, Brett Zimmerman who is the writer of Edgar Allen Poe: Rhetoric And Style says: The Black Cat is equally true of Tell-Tale Heart. Both stories have two simultaneous perspectives: the narrative and the authorial. The author, Poe, puts various rhetorical figures of speech and thought, and argumentative appeals, into his narrators’ explanations of the horrible events they have witnessed, then sits back with his perspective readers to watch the narrators fall short in their attempts at persuasion.
The result is an irony that alert readers detect and a conviction that Poe is a far better literary craftsman than even than some of his critical champions have realized. We face with the self-denial of the narrator in Tell-Tale Heart when he says that he is not mad. However, his tone is ironic and the reader thinks just the opposite of what he said. The flow of the action in the two stories unravels more and more analogies in Poe’s style. To exemplify, the character choose of Poe shows his main aim is to tell about the human psychology.
In Tell-Tale Heart, this is achieved with the schizophrenic narrator who hears the heart beatings of the dead, old man. His obsession with the pale, blue eye is the first hint for the reader to realize the psychological ailment of him. With no logical reason, just because he is annoyed at the eye of the old man, the narrator kills him and this is not a work of a healthy mind. Edgar Allen Poe especially chooses this sort of characters because they have some traces of instinctive behavior. The irrational fear of the characters make them murderers.
So, the possibility to commit a crime with no logical reason shows that murder does not need to have an acceptable reason. The psychological ailments can be also a reason for murder. The main purpose of Edgar Allen Poe is to show the power of psychology on human beings. Human psychology cannot be kept under control all the time (Zimmerman, 34-35) In The Black Cat, there is also effect of psychology on committing murder as a Poe story required. The narrator is actually victim of his superstitions. He denies that he believes in superstitions however, subsequently, he commits murder because he remains under the pressure of them.
He gets so carried of them that he even does not hesitate to kill his wife. So, his madness causes him to be a murderer (Zimmerman, 41-43) So far, I have pointed out many similarities between The Black Cat and Tell-Tale Heart to illuminate Poe’s style. All the similarities are to serve specific purposes for Poe. So, by maintaining his techniques and style in both of these stories, Edgar Allen Poe reached his main goal: one single effect in the short stories. In both of the stories, the single effect was horror, and Edgar Allen Poe made other supportive techniques to serve this aim. He was successful as we can refer from his stories’ still being examined and his being a pioneer of short, horror stories.
Citation 1- Zimmerman, Brett. Edgar Allen Poe: Rhetoric And Style. McGill-Queen’s University Press, September 2005. 2- E. Arthur Robinson. Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. Ninteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 19, No. 4 (Mar. , 1965) pp. 369-378. http://www. jstor. org/stable/2932876. 3- Womack, Martha. The Poe Decoder. (1997) : Internet. http://www. poedecoder. com/essays/blackcat. 4- Womack, Martha. The Poe Decoder. (1997) : Internet. http://www. poedecoder. com/essays/ttheart/