Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Tell-Tale Heart

Psychoanalytic literary theory or criticism concerns mainly the unconscious mind. The actions and responses of a person or character in a story or even the way a reader interprets a story. According to Ross C Murfin it could be said that the psychoanalytic approach started with Freud. A psychoanalytic critic like Freud would think of literary works of fiction as something that resembles a dream. Freud thought of dreams as repressed wishes and fears. The same can be said of literary works of fiction. The symbols in a fiction story can interpreted as a writer’s repressed wishes and fears. “Not what the story is really about, but what it makes you keep on thinking or wanting to say.” (Adam Phillips) The reader might also pick up on the symbols and interpret them in a way that fits their own wishes and/or fears.

Edgar Allan Poe is an American writer best known for his gothic works of fiction usually dealing with death. One of his best known and popular works is called The Tell-Tale Heart. The story is told by an unknown narrator. It is unclear in the story if the narrator is man or woman but many assume the narrator to be a man. “Language, the system of difference which articulates identities” (Lacan). The choosing of the gender according to the reader can be of great interest to a psychoanalytic critic because in choosing a man or a woman as the narrator can reveal some of the readers’ thoughts, wishes and fears, repressed or not. The narrator seems to be confessing (also to an unknown) about what he does with the old man that the narrator lives with. The narrator claims to have loved the old man but the only thing that bothered, scared and drove the narrator crazy was the old man’s “pale blue eye with a film over it”, that resembled a vultures eye. The narrator calls it the old man’s “evil eye”. The way the narrator calls it the “evil eye” is interesting because you can almost say that the narrator is scared of the eye. Why? Perhaps because this person (narrator) might have done something that he is ashamed of and he/she may think that the “evil eye” sees right through him, to the truth.

The eye causes the narrator such distress that he/decides that it is time to get rid of the eye by killing the old man. Every night for a week the narrator went into the old man’s room and took a lantern which the narrator used so that “that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye” of the old man. On the eighth night the narrator went in as usual but this time he noticed that the old man was awakened by a noise. "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, because Death in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room.” The old man is clearly scared and this seems to excite the narrator by the way he tells it.

This story is filled with ambiguity which would be very interesting to a psychoanalytic critic. The relationship between the narrator and the old man is unknown. This man could be anyone to the narrator like an uncle, grandfather, father, or even a friend.

34 comments:

  1. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour..............................................

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  2. 幽默並不是諷刺,它或許帶有溫和的嘲諷,卻不傷人,它可能是以別人,也可以用自己為對象。........................................

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  3. 先告訴自己希望成為什麼樣的人,然後一步一步實踐必要的步驟。 ..................................................

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  4. 如果成為一支火柴,也要點亮一個短暫的宇宙;如果是一隻烏鴉,也要叫疼閉塞的耳膜。..................................................

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  5. 一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼.................................................................

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  6. 向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

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  7. 如果成為一支火柴,也要點亮一個短暫的宇宙;如果是一隻烏鴉,也要叫疼閉塞的耳膜。.................................................................

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  8. 人生之中,比冒險更危險的一件事:不去冒險。..................................................

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  9. 堅持是為著某種目的或目標,而持續不斷朝向既定方向努力的一種意念。..................................................

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  10. 一時的錯誤不算什麼,錯而不改才是一生中永遠且最大的錯誤..................................................

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  11. 人必須心懷希望,才會活的快樂,日子才過得充實,有意義,有朝氣,有信心。......................................................

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