Comparison of Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Imp of the Perverse' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart'

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Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most recognizable literary figures in 19th century American literature. Poe is most well known for his short stories that focus on a psychologically unhinged character who murders an innocent person without motive and eventually cracks under pressure before the police, ultimately turning himself in for the crimes he committed. Two such stories that follow this theme are "The Imp of the Perverse" and "The Tell-Tale Heart." "The Imp of the Perverse" begins unlike many of Poe's other short stories; it appears to be a serious essay about phrenology, a science that sought to determine the relationship between character and skull morphology. However, the short story quickly transitions into a format that Poe would continue to use throughout his other stories. Once phrenology has been explained, the narrator declares that he has fallen victim to the imp of the perverse, which he contends is "an innate and primitive principle of human action," or an instinct, that prompts an individual to be self destructive (Poe, "The Imp of the Perverse," 281). In "The Imp of the Perverse," the narrator murders a man using a poisoned candle that emits poisonous gas/smoke. The narrator admits that his plan was premeditated and that "[f]or weeks, for months, I pondered upon the means of murder. I rejected a thousand schemes, because their accomplishment involved a chance of detection" (283). Thinking he has gotten away with murder, the narrator declares, "I am safe I

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