“It’s True! yes, i have been ill, very ill. But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad?” This quote is from the Gothic short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ written by Edgar Allan Poe. The narrator in this story is as I would describe, a Gothic protagonist. There are six traits that relate to a Gothic protagonist. These traits are contrasting qualities, High social rank, often shows negative foreshadowing, is driven by strong emotions, is secretive or has an air of mystery and has a need to know. These traits are related to a Gothic protagonist because they are consistently used in Gothic novels and short stories and are globally accepted to be the traits of a Gothic protagonist.

“But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad?” The story starts with the narrator asking rhetorical questions and is asking us whether he is mad or not. The narrator is doing this because he needs reassurance that he is not mad and this is the quality ‘need to know’ therefore showing the descriptor. This just makes me think that he is actually mad because if he truly thought he wasn’t then he wouldn’t be asking so many questions like this in such a small amount of time. When I read this part of the text I immediately thought that he was crazy and quite mysterious. In a way I relate to the narrator but it not in as much of an extreme way. I also have the quality of need to know. Whether I hear someone say my name or just a rumor I need to know what is going on. I do this because I like to be in control and obviously get a bit nervous if I am not. I am quite self conscious at the moment so when I hear someone say my name I automatically assume that the are saying something bad about me and I want to know what is going on and why someone is talking about me. This had the biggest effect on me as a reader because I felt I could relate to the narrator in that we both have a need to know. This is probably relevant to a lot of people around the world that are in the same boat as I am. No one likes to be talked about behind their backs and by wanting to know what people think about you means that you have the trait need to know and makes you have a trait of a Gothic protagonist. I think the man is insecure about who he really is. He is not able to accept who he is and he is not able to accept the condition he has. I relate to this statement. This is a big problem for him. If you do not accept who you are then you will just keep getting worse and when someone gives you a bit of a smack and tells you who you really are then you will take it really bad and become more crazy and try and shut your feelings away. This is why he became so crazy. I can also relate to this because for a while I did not accept who I was and how I looked but eventually I got a reality check and that helped me accept who I am and gave me motivation to change myself and not just dwell on it. 

The narrator later on murders a man with no real motive but still he tries to persuade us that he is innocent. He covers up his crime with such preciseness that no one could ever find the body yet if he really thought he was innocent then why would he try and hide the evidence? This is shown in this quote: “You should have seen how careful I was to put the body where no one could find it. First I cut off the head, then the arms and the legs. I was careful not to let a single drop of blood fall on the floor. I pulled up three of the boards that formed the floor, and put the pieces of the body there. Then I put the boards down again, carefully, so carefully that no human eye could see that they had been moved.” The narrator covers up his crime with absolute preciseness. This means he has the trait of contrasting qualities. He thinks he is sane but he murders a man with no motive and covers up the evidence perfectly which means he has obviously done something wrong. He is insane for killing the man but he must have some sanity because he has the right mindset to cover up the act so that he didn’t get exposed as insane and as a murderer. These contrasting qualities makes him seem to me like a perfect Gothic protagonist. This action makes me think that the narrator is feeling guilty about his actions. I know this because when I do something I shouldn’t be I tend to try and cover it up as best as possible. This can range from eating something I shouldn’t to completely deceiving someone. I believe Poe has created these contrasting qualities to make us question the sanity of the narrator. He wants the narrator to be an edgy character that makes us think and draws us in.

The narrator often foreshadows negative events. Foreshadowing is an indication of a future event and in this case the narrator is negatively foreshadowing. “I hear sounds from heaven, I hear sounds from hell”. This is foreshadowing some kind of death. The words heaven and hell symbolize what happens after you die ( if you believe in religion) so I believe this is foreshadowing of someone being killed or murdered which would make sense as the narrator kills a man.

I thought this short story was quite well and cleverly written. It had a lot more to it than the eye can see and it was good to be able to dig deeper into the story and the topic of Gothic fiction. Overall I thought the story showed that the narrator was a clear Gothic protagonist as he showed many traits that portrays one. He has the traits, need to know, contrasting qualities and he negatively foreshadows. He needs reassurance that he isn’t mad, he kills a man with no motive and then hides the truth and he foreshadows the death of the man he kills. I enjoyed reading this short story a lot. Edgar Allan Poe has developed the idea of a gothic protagonist very well in this story. He has given the man the traits of a gothic protagonist in a clever way.



Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Lewie,

    Thanks for getting your response in on time to receive feedback.

    You are treating the traits of the gothic protagonists like a checklist and this is not their purpose.

    At the moment I can only see one quote from the text. You’ll need to include more evidence to support your judgements.

    I would also like to see you develop your personal response more.This could be by looking at historical social context of the text or by evaluating your response to the way Poe develops his Gothic protectionist using the characteristics you have outlined.

    Mrs. P


Respond now!