Narrator of Tell-Tale Heart Male or Female?greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread
I need help finding articles on whether the narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart is male or female for my English 102 class. There are articles suggesting the narrator is male but i nedd one on if the narrator is female. The help would be greatly appreciated.
-- Anonymous, September 14, 2002
VERY remote. Let's take the first premise. Does Poe EVER enter the mind of a female or make the female the narrator or main protagonist? Look hard. Even when the scene shifts as "The Premature Burial" during anecdotes of entombment experiences, only the male minds are examined from within. That puts the burden of going against the strong male clues of "The Tell-Tale Heart". Poe's women can be strange, preternaturally strong willed, but hardly intimately detailed in understanding their real mind. The point of view of the male writer/narrator is preeminent drawing from Poe's own psychology and Muses and the fixed place the female figure has in his artistic and personal passion. Read "Annabel Lee", a supposedly great love poem. Is she described physically, at all? Only her love and tie to the narrator is significant. A goddess, a ghost he might want exorcised but cannot, a symbol. These are the typical Poe women in his pantheon of poetics. The comic pieces have more congenial, bemused characters(Scheherezade,the Spectacles)but now totally distant from anything deeper than conversational discourse.
As to the other articles it is interesting in that it provokes new perspectives that plainly reveal the above, I think. About as solid as trying to prove Poe a communist, a slaver sympathizer, a homosexual or other exciting categorizations that eschew facts for making the article writer an authority among the gatekeepers of popular novelty. The stuff that bizarre theses are made of.
In my humble opinion. P. E. Murphy
-- Anonymous, September 19, 2002
You may totally trust Mr Murphy's deep knowledge and scholarship. Nevertheless, though really unexpected, the exercise trying to see if this well-known and very effective story can suffer the hypothesis of a woman as narrator seems to me a very clever one, and in perfect keeping with Poe's ideas of manyfold (when thoroughly consistent) readings and meanings. It was effectively rare, but Poe could (brightly) stage some female narrators for the "I" of the text, e.g. in his "Bridal Ballad" (published first in the "Southern Literary Messenger", Jan., 1837, and eventually revised for the "1845-volume" of "The Raven and Other Poems")-- a poem in melancholy mood, easily accessible -- as well as in the "Psyche Zenobia" and its sequel " The Scythe of Time" (published in Nov. 1838)-- his humorous satire on the gothic "Blackwood" story-telling, better known today as "How to Write a Blackwood Article" together with "A Predicament". Naturally,in these cases, the female characters are explicitly such ones, and do not require, thus, special investigations. I shall test your suggestion as soon as possible, and perhaps become more convinced than our friend Mr Murphy. In any way, a stimulating new approach, to my mind at least. Yours sincerely, Raven's Shade (Belgium).
-- Anonymous, September 21, 2002
Goodness Gracious! You ought to forget forever, I fear, this foolish hypothesis! Poe would have never used the words "madMEN" and "madMAN", if he had had in mind the possibility of some she- narrator! He would have surely preferred such neutral terms as "lunatic", "maniac", &c., in order to preserve the consistency of such an ambitious suggestion... Poe was always an ardent and faithful worshipper of the "Power of Words"; he could not err with a blunder of this kind, I assure you. The most plausible character intended to, as a narrator, seems to be merely some valet, or he- servant, or he-domestic and the like, but, in any case, NOT a female one... Now, we may start again our reading of this powerful and pathetic confession, with all its richness of manifold suggestions, and without the least trouble about... gender! Yours, Raven's Shade (Belgium). P. S. You see you may trust Mr Murphy!
-- Anonymous, September 22, 2002