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Tall Tale Heart

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Characters are interesting subjects to those who are studying literature. No two are exactly alike, nor ever could be, and each author has their own methods to their development. A good author can offer a reader insight into the character through many methods, but it's the insight into the character's self-struggle that offers the most intrigue; an intrigue that can only reveal the true nature and life of that character. From two separate authors, we will examine characters from two stories and offer a study into the methods of the authors development of characters through their self-struggles.

In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", the narrator can be identified through many different ways, and each way will slightly alter the insight into the character's nature. Impressions are made on the reader through the narrator's reactions to certain events throughout the story, such as murdering the old man and the encounter with the police.

First, the narrator's reaction to the old man's "Evil Eye", "one of his eyes resembled that of a vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it ran upon me, my blood ran cold" (Poe, 413) causes the murder of this old man. The narrator cannot handle being observed, even examined, by such an eye as this. As the narrator enters the old man's room to commit the murder he has been planning for the previous eight days, there comes a time that he opens the lantern just a crack, and it is this beam from the lantern that pelts the old man's "evil eye" with light, immediately infuriating the narrator. As the narrator creeps forward to commit his dastardly deed, it is the old man's hear that will ultimately drive the narrator into his final madness and frenzy.

In the end of Poe's short story, it is not guilt that drives the narrator to his frenzied confession, it is the old man's heart, a hallucination in actuality, but to the narrator, the proof that he had not killed the old man properly and failed in the death of the evil eye's stare. To the narrator, this is the ultimate failure on his part, and as he slowly comes to this realization he is overcome by the sense that the police are mocking him by making no motions or mentions to the loud thud of the old man's heart.

The narrator's struggle in these two cases leave such an impression on the reader that it is hard to not discover the true nature of his madness. The narrator is a man that does not take mockery well, and tries to squash all mentions or motions of such actions. First, by murdering the old man and the evil eye that mocked him of his life's position as a vulture, and then by proving to the cops that he had murdered him and their mockery of him wasn't fooling anyone.

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", there are three characters that we can examine to reveal their true natures, and each view of the character's struggles offers new insight for the meaning of the story and why it was written. The three characters, Mrs. Hutchinson, Mrs. Dunbar, and Old Man Warner all react to the stoning in different ways for this information to be clear to Jackson's readers.

First, Mrs. Hutchinson's reaction is one that puts the placement of responsibility in perspective. With her final line, Mrs. Hutchinson screams, "it isn't fair, it isn't right" (Jackson, 245), and immediately puts responsibility and the human element into perspective. With these six words, she sums up our human nature to place blame in others instead of where blame is due, upon us. This not only reveals Mrs. Hutchinson's true nature of human understanding, but also reveals one aspect the author intended us as readers to pick up on.

Next, we examine Mrs. Dunbar's reactions to the lottery and her views on stoning her own friend. Through Mrs. Dunbar's reactions, you can tell that she doesn't like the lottery, but believes it to be a necessary evil, even if she does not understand why. Throughout Jackson's story, you can see the friendly relationship that has been developed between Mrs. Dunbar and Mrs. Hutchinson. When Mrs. Hutchinson is shown to have the black spot and it becomes her turn to be stoned by the village, Mrs. Dunbar shows her true compassion towards her friends. "Mrs. Dunbar had small stones in her hands, and she said, gasping for breath, 'I'll can't

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