Analysis of Psycho and The Tell-Tale Heart

Topic: Successful creators of horror can tap into the fears of their audience. Compare and contrast how fear is developed and maintained by two or more of the texts studied this term In the horror stories, ‘The Tell-tale Heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe and ‘Psycho’ by Alfred Hitchcock,the authors have successfully tapped into the fears of their audience. Each author showcases a different type of fear and develops anxiety and suspense by using different techniques throughout their story. Fear is a powerful human emotion that puts us on high alert as we anticipate either a known or unknown threat.

In ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, the story is told by an unknown narrator who, from the outset is possibly insane. He becomes obsessed and fearful of an old man’s deformed and scarred eye. He describes the eye looking like a ‘vulture’, ‘a pale blue eye with a film over it’. He plots to kill the old man to rid himself of the vexed‘Evil eye’. Poe uses words such as ‘very, very nervous’, ‘haunted’, ‘my blood ran cold’ to describe the narrator’s feelings towards the old man’s eye. This language generates fear in the reader.

As the narrator plots the murder he describes a premeditated plan that he ‘slowly – very, very slowly’ implements so the old man is caught by surprise. He creeps into the old man’s room at night when it is ‘as black as pitch’. He watches the old man sleeping over several nights, carefully and coldly planning his actions. This is very chilling as we all remember our childhood fear of the dark and the possibility that someone may attack us when we are at our most vulnerable – asleep, defenseless, in bed.

Poe also uses the technique of describing body parts in a very frightening and graphic way. He describes opening the door to the old man’s room very slowly to ‘place my whole head within the opening’. This description has grotesque imagery as though the narrator’s head has..

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