“ A Rose For Emily”, “ Tell Tale Heart”, and “ My Last Duchess”, are all narratives with the theme of madness and murder. Each narrator’s point of view shapes their story. “ A Rose For Emily” is told from an outside point of view while, in contrast, “ Tell Tale Heart” and “ My Last Duchess” are both told by a participant in the story. The point of view a story is told from can greatly impact what the reader believes. In each narrative, the narrator’s motivation to tell the tale influences how the tale is told.
The narrator in “ A Rose For Emily” influences themes of madness, murder, and isolation by telling the narrative through the gossip of the townspeople. The narrator’s third person point of view tells us that the narrator is a nonparticipant in the narrative. The narrator tells the story from outside, making it an objective point of view. The narrator reveals little to the reader about one’s self but instead gives the reader a feel that it is the whole town telling the story.
For example, in part IV the narrator switches to first person and states things like “ So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. ” (Faulkner 45). With little information about the narrator it is hard to tell what the motivation behind telling the narrative is. It seems as if it is the gossip in the small town that motivates the narrator to tell the narrative. The “ Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe is an interestingly told narrative told by a narrator that seems to be crazy.
The “ Tell Tale Heart” is told in first person and the narrator is a participant in the story. This factor influences the story and how it is told. As the narrator tells the story he speaks as if his thoughts and actions are normal but the reader can clearly see that the man is truly mad. For example, the narrator states “ One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture- a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees- very gradually- I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever. (Poe 37).
He states this truly believing that the murder he is about to commit has an acceptable purpose. The narrator can be considered an unreliable source in the sense that he is crazy, however, he can be considered reliable because he knows the whole story. “ My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning, like “ Tell Tale Heart”, is a narrative told by another mad murder. “ My Last Duchess” is told in first person with the narrator being a participant in the story. A painting of an ex-wife influences the narrator to tell the narratee of his ex-wife.
As the narrator discusses the painting of his wife, he paints a picture of the woman for the reader. This gives the reader insight into the narrator’s emotions. What we know about the narrator is that he is a wealthy duke about to get remarried. By the duke’s tone of voice and choice of words when he rants on about the painting of his last duchess, the reader also can assume that duke’s jealously has driven him to murder his last wife. For example, the duke states “ Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile?
This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. ”(Browning 418). This point of view and how the story is told is interesting and shapes the story. As the duke ponders and speaks of the painting it is as if his emotions of love, jealously, and anger are provoked just as if she was still there. Also, this point of view allows the narrator too slowly, and maybe accidently, revile his madness to the reader and the narratee. What motivates the narrator to tell the story is unknown.
We know that the narratee is associated with the narrator’s soon to be wife, so we have to wonder why the duke is telling the narratee all of this. It may have been an accident; the painting may have provoked him to tell too much. That being said, it could have also been his arrogance that lead him to reveal too much. Factors such as the point of view in a story can greatly impact what the reader takes from the events. Through the usage of 1st and 3rd person in these narratives, the reader is influenced in different ways.
The reader can easily see how the townspeople view Emily through the narrator’s outside view in “ A Rose For Emily. ” In contrast, the reader is actually in the mind of the murderer in “ The Tale Tell Heart” and “ My Last Duchess”. In a “ Rose for Emily” it is the gossip of the townspeople that influences the story to be retold to the reader. The narrator’s motivation in “ Tell Tale Heart” is to convince the narritee that he is not mad. In addition, “ My Last Duchess” is told out of the arrogance and ignorance of the duke.
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