Subject An Neurotic Analysis!
Posted by Sophie
Posted on Sun Nov 5 18:36:25 2000
From IP  

The story covers a period of approximately eight days with most of the important action occurring each night around midnight. The location is the home of an elderly man in which the narrator has become a caretaker or probably some kind of servant. Such a narrow setting allows readers to directly focus on the event and also to sharpen their senses to every tiny detail.
A possible argument might arrive at the gender of the narrator, who may be a male of female since Poe uses only :I; and :me; in reference to this character. At first glance, I got the feeling that the main character was female because usually a care-taking job is associated with women. But then I thought that Poe might also assume that the reader would know that the protagonist was male since the event was described through the first person point of view and Poe himself is a man. Anyway, it seems that the story can be plausible with either a male or female tone, and that it・s not vary likely for any author to create a story whose impact could be changed simply by imagining this horrendous and vile deed being committed by an opposite sex.
Edgar Allan Poe sure knows how to bring the reader completely into the story by getting us to see the scenes through the perspective of the murder of the old man as if this cruel murder was actually carried out in front of us. When the author creates such a situation where the protagonist tells a personal account, the overall impact of the story is definitely heightened. For we all have to admit that, somewhere in the depth of human mind, everybody has at least a slight sense of desire out of curiosity to peek at one another・s utmost secrecy and mystery. In this particular story, the narrator adds to the overall effect of horror by continually stressing to the reader that he or she is not mad, and tries to convince us of that fact by how carefully this brutal crime was planned and executed.
To understand what the author tries to convey through this writing style, we must underline that this is not only a story about murder but madness which leads us to explore the unconsciousness and the incomprehensibility of one neurosis・s disordered mind. This story is a case of domestic violence that occurs as the result of an irrational and unreasonable fear of the old man・s one :pale blue eye;, which was viewed as :that of a vulture; in the eyes of the narrator. In many scenes when the madman is peeking into the room at the door side, he is always searching for that one particular eye in the darkness by maintaining the ray upon it only. Therefore, under the circumstance where no specific clues and background information were given to associate us with other external motivations of his killing, obviously it is this phobia that evokes the dark side and eventually drives the narrator to madness.
We should also pay attention to one line that appears twice in the article with exactly the same word order, :a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.; Which could be seen as killer・s common symptom that triggers first his impulse to commit the killing and then his out-of-control confession at the end. Since, in the very beginning, the narrator mentions that :the disease had sharpened [his or her] senses V not destroyed V not dulled them,; we can tell that this heart beating of the old man is some illusionary noise inside his or her head that causes a sudden emotional explosion that disable the rational thinking. And perhaps we could also interpret it the other way around and say that this noise is the reflection of his conscience or guilt. To get rid of this annoying pressure produced by the conflict between the consciousness and unconsciousness, certain urgent actions must be taken to immediately remove unbearable stress, such as destroying the vexing external object or letting out the internal block.
In conclusion, there is one firm reason for me to insist on using a neurotic perspective to explain the narrator・s whole doing, which seems to be an extreme phobia. It motivates the murder when having contact with the mental barrier, the old man・s eye, as well as the confession when officers :chatted familiar things; that again drives out the symptom. Human nature is a delicate balance of light and dark or good and evil. Most of the time this precarious balance is maintained; however, when there is a shift, for whatever reason, the dark or perverse side surfaces. How and why this :dark side; emerges differs from person to person and still remains mysterious.

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