Unity Of Impression In Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

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Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) is one of the most popular stories he ever published. The Tell-Tale Heart is a twisted investigation into a man’s psychosis after he murders an old man. The story is so captivating as a reader because the narrator is speaking to the reader to convince himself of his own sanity. It was such a successful story because of Poe’s use of ‘unity of impression’, or otherwise known as a single effect. The theory behind ‘unity of impression’, according to Poe, is that if a story is read in a single sitting then the author is ‘enabled to carry out the fullness of his intention …. The soul of the reader is at the writer 's control’. (Lawrence, 1917, 275) Poe’s very effective use of this theory helps the reader to understand the story. Poe uses two main themes to create his ‘unity of impression’: time and the narrators ‘clarity of purpose’ emphasised through his dual-personality. The narrator uses time to justify his actions on the old man, but Poe makes it clear the readers time and narrators time mean two very different things. Poe efficaciously fractures the language of the narrator, as he speaks to the reader, to mimic a frantic mind. The narrator would continually try to convince the reader of his clarity and his sanity, while the reader knew he was insane. This enhanced the narrator’s clear psychosis and dual-personality, helping the reader to understand the story. The narrator refers to the old man’s eye continually in his
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