Poe The Worth Of Earlier Works Of Essay

Length: 2 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Literature Type: Essay Paper: #98261900 Related Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, Biography
Excerpt from Essay :


The worth of earlier works of American literature is sometimes proven by their application to later works. Such is the case with Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and his discussion of the Thirteen Virtues. The absence of such virtues can often be the source of complications and conflicts that drive a narrative. This is evident in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," in which both major characters reveal an absence of one or more of the Thirteen Virtues, thereby creating the problems that drive the story. In fact, three absent virtues drive the tale include silence, tranquility, and justice.

The virtue of silence refers to speaking only when necessary, and only "what may benefit others or yourself." Because the narrator lacks the virtue of silence, he divulges his crime to the police. Had he not broken his silence, the narrator would likely have gotten away with the crime. "Villains!" I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!'" Were the narrator...


The beating of the heart was in his head; technically, it was silent. The old man, on the other hand, also lacks the virtue of discerning when to be silent and when to speak. Franklin affirms, "Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself." By this, Franklin means that speaking of that which would benefit himself would have been the virtuous deed. The old man should have spoken sooner if he wanted to avoid his death.

The virtue of tranquility is one that neither of the two main characters in "The Tell-Tale Heart" possess. At first, it seems that the narrator has plenty of tranquility in his calculated movements prior to the murder. For example, " I moved it slowly --very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed." The old man, likewise, possesses ample tranquility, in that he simply remains in his bed and only cries out "Who's there?" On one occasion in spite of his being stalked. By the time he becomes obsessed with the eye, the narrator has no…

Sources Used in Documents:


"Benjamin Franklin: His Autobiography." Retrieved online: http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/biographies/benjamin-franklin/chapter-6.php

Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Tell-Tale Heart." Retrieved online: https://www.poemuseum.org/works-telltale.php

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