First Person Narration In Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories

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Edgar Allan Poe endured many difficulties and sadness over the course of his life. His life was filled with unstable living conditions, a broken family, and the loss of many loved ones.. These life experiences heavily influenced the way he developed his poems and short stories, which led him to become one of the greatest writers of his time. Poe is known for his Gothic style of literature which include elements of fear, horror, death, gloom, and suspense. There is a psychological element that characterize some of Poe’s tales of horror, and are written in first person. Through first person narration, Poe is able to develop the character’s individuality. Poe’s short stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Cask of Amontillado” are told by first-person narration which helps develop characterization.

In Poe's “Tell-Tale Heart,” the short story is written from the perspective of the murder in first person. The narrator is obsessed with the vulture-like eye of an old man, so he smothers the old man, cuts up his body, and hides the body parts under the floorboards of the bedroom. Through the narrator telling his account of the story, the overall view is heightened. The narrator continually stresses to the reader that he or she is not mad, and tries to convince the reader through the planning and execution of the crime, ultimating adding an effect of horror to the story. The point of view helps to convey the theme of madness throughout the story. By allowing the narratives to be in first person, the narrator is able to control the narrative, and the reader is only able to see through their eyes.

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Poe’s short story, “The Black Cat,” is also written in the first person point of view. In the beginning of the story, the narrator is trying to prove his sanity and says that he is sentenced to death. The suspicion heightens when the reader learns that the narrator kills his wife when he was really trying to kill the cat again, though he is still trying to prove his sincerity. The point of view conveys to the reader the true madness of the narrator, as he expresses his true actions revealing his true insanity.

Poe’s story of murder and revenge, “The Cask of Amontillado,” is told through the perspective of an insane murderer in first person. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor repays his enemy, Fortunato. The Montresor lures Fortunato into his home with some sherry and locks Fortunato in a wall while a carnival goes on above him. Through first-person point of view, the reader is more involved in the thoughts and motives of the Montresor as he tortures and murders Fortunato. The point of view also affects the conflict of man versus man, because the reader knows very little about the antagonist, Fortunato. First person allows the Montresor to justify his murder, whereas it would not work in a third person point of view. The justification for his crime is only learned by his readers because of them being able to be in his mind.

Edgar Allan Poe uses first person point of view in many of his short stories. FIrst person point of view allows the narrator to control the narrative and allows the reader to see through his or her eyes. The narrator often expresses his or her own morbid actions so well that they demonstrate their true insanity. They are then unable to distinguish their own madness.

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First Person Narration In Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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