A Reader- Oriented Approach to Edgar Alan Poe's the Tell- Tale Heart

1465 WordsJan 17, 20116 Pages
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” A Reader- Oriented approach to Edgar Alan Poe’s The Tell- Tale Heart The Titular question is an old philosophical riddle for which a wide range of metaphysical and non-metaphysical solution has been offered. The answers differ based on the perspective of the interpreter. Judging these answers is neither possible nor desirable for us, but the riddle and the ensuing debates attest to the veracity of one of the most basic tenets of reader-response theory: If a text does not have a reader, it does not exist-or at least, it has no meaning. It’s reader, with whatever experience he brings to the text, who gives it its meaning. Of particular significance is…show more content…
The narrator is a psychopath with wacky motivations. If we accept this convenient explanation then we have to deal with another question: could a madman talks with such lucidity and exactness? The answer that Ken Frieden gives to this question is a positive one. He downplays the contrast between the sane narrative and mad narrator: “The discrepancy between sane narrator and madman perhaps shows the error of assuming that linguistic normalcy implies psychological normalcy.” Friedan took it for granted that the narrator is mad because he kills an old man for no reason. He is doubly mad, Friedan said, when he imagines he hears the pounding of the dead man's heart and gives away the crime he had concealed. Yet the narrator tells a coherent tale, as if to demonstrate out of spite that he is sane, refuting the ordinary belief that he must be mad. On the other side of the road, there are critics who are sympathetic toward the narrator and dismiss any suggestion of madness. Daniel Hoffman, for instance is willing to believe the narrator’s claim about the Old man’s eye. Hoffman reads the vulture-like eye as a Freudian Father-Figure. He takes the old man as a father-figure; whose “Eye becomes the all-seeing surveillance of the child by the father.” (Bloom 53) . This surveillance is, Hoffman writes, “the inculcation into his soul

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