(In this essay L.B. analyzes how fear can overrun someone’s life in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart)
Edgar Allan Poe reveals how a person’s fear can unravel their life. Such a simple fear can lead to destruction. In the Tell Tale Heart, the considered “mad man” fears the pale blue eye of the innocent old man. Not only is the act of the mad man astounding, but the presentation of his story. Poe writes this story in the first person, but as a recollection of the murder, not as it is occurring.
At first, the man is overcome with fear by the gazing of the “vulture eye” of the old man. However, the old man is a defenseless, frail, kind person who let the “mad man” stay in his home. The old man just happens to have an eye that has a film over it creating the image of an eye belonging to a vulture. Although, this image “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees - very gradually - I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.” This taunting object led him to commit murder, an irreversible act, which would alter his life.
It is not only the motive for the crime, but the explanation of how calmly and emotionless he was, almost inhuman. “How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.” He believes as if he cannot be mad due to his calmness, when in reason his inexplicable behavior creates the notion that he is in fact mad. Any person who can murder a defenseless man due to a physical feature is truly mad.
The theme of fear makes a connection between the old man’s eye and his fear of the possible mockery by the three policemen. When the three policemen ask to come inside, the man does not fear their entry because he believes he has committed the perfect murder, untraceable. He cunningly severed parts of the body and placed them in the floorboards. He becomes arrogant and brings the police into the very room where the body of the old man is hidden. Faintly his fears intensify and he begins to frantically talk and pace. The police think nothing of it. However, in the mad man’s head, he hears an escalating noise resembling the beating of a heart. He fears that the police are making a mockery of him and truly know what he has done. To relieve his fear of embarrassment, he reveals the hacked body of the old man.
Fear drove him to reveal something he could have easily gotten away with. The fear of at first the vulture eye, then of mockery overran his life and proceeded to label him as a mad man. Although, inside he may believe this false, by his account of the murder and cover up, leads one to conclude that he is truly mad.
(L.B. 2012)

(In this essay L.B. analyzes the inability to avoid death, regardless of stature in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.)
Through the story of The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allan Poe reveals how money and rank in society cannot make you immortal. The main character, Prince Prospero believes that as the prince he is able to avoid the plague. Little does he know that an unexpected guest at his party will claim his life as he has with his people. When he closes the doors to his palace he is claiming everyone’s lives that he does not try to save. The peasants are not dying of the plague but at the hand of Prince Prospero.
The prince’s palace consists of seven rooms, each decorated with a different color. The seventh room however is decorated with red and black, possibly symbolizing the Red Death. Also, in that room stands an ebony clock that rings every hour. When the clock rings everything goes quiet in the palace, then noise resumes as it was. Outside the walls of the palace a plague is ravaging through his city, while Prince Prospero is partying with others. He is refusing to accept that death is at his doorstep, waiting to claim his life.
When the intruder is seen, enraged, the prince follows him into the red and black room. To the prince’s surprise he is then killed by the masked intruder. Others try to apprehend the unwanted guest and their efforts result in death. They have finally been face to face with the Red Death. The Red Death does not make exceptions for those with fortune or rank as Prince Prospero once thought. The red and black room symbolizes the color of the Red Death, both red and black. As the clock strikes at each hour can symbolize a death of yet another citizen.
It is the prince’s decision to cut off people from the castle and thus decides his own fate. Instead of helping his citizens he allows them to suffer alone and resorts to living healthily in his castle, surrounded by other healthy people. To his surprise, they all end up dying when the intruder enters the premises. By secluding the castle and the people in it, he only allowed the Red Death to spread more rapidly due to a confined space.
Prince Prospero was faced with greed and the possibility to avoid the Red Death. However, the plague does not make exceptions, thus explaining why Prince Prospero could not avoid it. Poe’s presentation of the Masque of the Red Death symbolizes that greed with result in nothing but failure.
(L.B. 2012)