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Syntax in The Tell-Tale Heart

Syntax Examples in The Tell-Tale Heart:

The Tell-Tale Heart


"louder—louder—louder!..."   (The Tell-Tale Heart)

Notice how Poe uses repetition at the end of the story to show the narrator's descent into insanity. Whereas at the beginning of the story, the style and the content are in tension, now the style and the content mirror each other. The narrator is no longer claiming his sanity.

"kind—no..."   (The Tell-Tale Heart)

Poe again invokes his theme of form contradicting content using choppy, unrefined sentences. The narrator claims that no human eye could see his deeds, that he was clever and careful, yet the way in which he relates this information is not careful. The sentences run together and are interrupted by other ideas demonstrating a lack of control.

"work..."   (The Tell-Tale Heart)

Notice how choppy the sentences at the beginning of this paragraph are. He talks about being calm, collected, and calculated as he plans out this murder. Yet the choppy style of his sentences and emphatic punctuation create a frenzied or hectic feeling to the text. Again, the style contradicts the content.

"healthily—how calmly..."   (The Tell-Tale Heart)

Notice how the broken style of this sentence contradicts its content. The narrator wants us to believe that he is not mad and that he can tell a story calmly. However, he disrupts the flow of the very sentence in which he tries to claim stability. This theme—of style contradicting content—resurfaces throughout the story.

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