Comparing the Theme of Madness in “the Tell-Tale Heart” and “the Black Cat”

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Comparing the Theme of Madness in “the Tell-Tale Heart” and “the Black Cat”

Comparing the Theme of Madness in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat”


This Essay is going to compare theme of madness presented to reader in two short stories ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Black Cat’ both by Edgar Allan Poe.


One might argue that the theme of madness is presented quite differently in both short stories if compared to each other. ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ presents us a true madman; the main character kills the old man because of the look of the old mans eye. This is highlighted by the piece, which was extracted from the story itself “I loved the old man. He had never wrong me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes it was this” Furthermore it is clearly shown that the madman liked the old man and he didn’t want old mans money. Madman committed the most atrocious of crimes because of the old mans appearance. However the main character doesn’t think he is mad and strongly believes that the old mans eye was pure evil, and this is highlighted by the quotes from “The Tell-Tale Heart”. “You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded --with what caution --with what foresight --with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him”.   The main character almost tries to compensate the murder by saying that he was nice to the old man before he killed him. Moreover, the main character still refused to believe in his madness “Ha! Would a madman been so wise as this”. The main character truly and faithfully believes that he is too clever, too cautious, too driven with his ideas to be mad and yet he still admits that he murdered the old man for the look of the old mans eye. “For it was not the old man who vexed me, but his evil eye”.   On-going, the main character tries to persuade the reader that he wasn’t mad and was perhaps a cautious and adept man, he believe so because...

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