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One of the biggest elements in this story is the way Poe uses different kinds of irony. At the end, Poe displays verbal irony when the narrator is speaking to the officers, acting calm while going crazy on the insane. He continues to tell himself he’s sane, causing him to reveal his crime due to him feeling as if he wasn’t acting suspicious. The way Poe manages to show the narrator’s state of paranoia throughout the story causes the reader to focus on that over his self plea of sanity. Throughout the tale, the narrator discusses the ways he is analyzing the old man in great detail while committing the murder in order to prove that he’s sane, while its actual effect is to show his madness to the reader. Another clear example of Poe’s use of irony is the fact that the murderer killed the old man because he said it made his blood run cold, but in the end he was more upset about the old man’s heart. He never actually blames himself for the murder, he continues to blame the old man for the crime throughout the end. The fact that he ended up admitting to the crime shows that he may still have a bit of humanity left, since he may have ended up feeling actual guilt in the end due to his continuous reminders of the heart beating.
The point of view of the story is another key aspect, given that the reader is only given one perspective to analyze. This causes the issue of the audience only knowing what the narrator says, not what’s actually happening, so they just have to take his word for it. This is a genius move by Poe, along with the factor of the story actually being told afterwards to the police or workers in a mental hospital. Another major key in this story is the setting. The setting is a constant catastrophe, beginning inside the mind of the narrator and pushing out into real life as he’s driven to insanity, resulting in a murder that shouldn’t have had to happen. There are also two physical settings that take place, which include the house where the old man is murdered and wherever the narrator is telling the story from (most likely prison or a mental hospital). The murderer explains (to the police or the workers in a mental hospital) at the end that he could not stand the sound of the heart beating, especially after his reasoning being denied by the police just to make him go even more crazy.
The main question that remains unanswered after the story is, why does the narrator kill the old man? He has no personal reasons for wanting him dead, and he was never negatively affected by him in any way. His only reasoning behind his actions is the evil within the old man’s eye, but he even says he loves the old man. The only information that the readers can use to justify the murder is the narrator’s state of mind, which slowly increases in madness throughout the story. The easiest way for the reader to truly understand the narrator’s motivation and clearly see his obsession is through his use of repetition. As the narrator continues to repeat the phrase “louder!”, the reader is able to see his insanity through his growing obsession with the heart pounding.
Poe explores the power of tone usage throughout this story in a unique way. After the murder, the narrator begins to speak in a frantic tone regarding the sounds of the heart beating. The last paragraph says “louder” countless times, each time with a more panicked expression. This displays the narrator’s growing paranoia, how he continues to freak out and convince himself he’s not mad. He acts kind to the police and the old man while keeping the evil inside him hidden, leading to a false confidence. He assumed that murdering the old man would gain him a sense of relief, but it only led to him becoming permanently tormented by the old man’s heart. His internal struggles surface when hearing his own heart beat, causing him to project them to the real world after he realizes his problem didn’t disappear. At the beginning of the story, the narrator says that he “had been and am” nervous, displaying his out of the ordinary mental state. When he says “many a night, just at midnight… it has welled up from my own bosom.” it could show why his murder stays inside the narrator’s head. He reads the story very calmly, as if he has no remorse for what he has done, but the end brings back the haunting memories and panic from that moment. The fact that he tells the story in great detail of how he dismembers the old man’s body convinces the reader even more of his insanity.
One of the biggest themes in this story is the narrator’s devolving psyche. He feels as if he’s clever having gotten away with murder in the beginning, but his false sense of confidence causes him to blow it after leading the police into the old man’s room with his body right below them. The narrator also manages to shift between first and second person throughout the story, with first person being to reassure his sanity while admitting to a murder for no reason other than an evil eye. He contradicts the first person narrative when he goes to the bed of the old man and know what the victim “had been saying to himself.” He talks to himself while the police are investigating, eventually blowing his cover because of it. The visual imagery as well as all the phrases being repeated in the story give the readers some insight and allows them to dig deeper into the true meaning behind the story.

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