“The Single Thin Ray That Fell upon the Vulture Eye”: Systemic Grammar and Its Use in Edgar A. Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Noor Abu Madi, Shadi Neimneh


This paper argues that Edgar Allan Poe applies many linguistic techniques in his short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” in order to express the dilemma of a character caught up in the trap of a confused identity, lost subjectivity, and uncontrolled performances. Poe’s story is analyzed in detail to examine the psychology of the performed actions. We analyze some aspects of clause construction, paying attention to ‘who is doing what to whom.’ This analysis is twofold: defining clause construction and discussing why this analysis is relevant and why Poe’s story was chosen for this kind of analysis. In addition, we prove through the grammatical and linguistic choices made by Poe the madness and the instability of the main character in the story. We will be selective in choosing the lines to be discussed, as we focus on the lines that show the main character’s detachment from himself and the rational world he belongs to. The language Poe uses in describing the mad act of killing the old man is highly committed to the psychology and ideology of the text along with its complexities in defining why a man would do what the narrator did.


Grammar; Stylistics; Poe; Fiction; “The Tell-Tale Heart”; Madness; American Literature; Psychological Fiction; Ideology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/n


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