Insanity In The Tell-Tale Heart And Bartleby The Scrivener

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Insanity in literature was not an uncommon theme in the Nineteenth Century. The recurring theme could be shown in works from writers like Poe and Melville in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “Bartleby the Scrivener.” The two works not only give us insight into how the mind of the mentally ill functions, but the characterization and use of irony between the two works bring to focus different situations of how insanity could be portrayed, and how the people with the illness were not the only lives affected by the illness. Before getting on to how mental illness is portrayed in the literature, we must first discuss the conditions and lifestyles that the mentally endured during that time period. The definition of mental health is not one that has been easily defined over the centuries. “Mental health is a vast term with a vast number of potential meanings… hundreds of definitions can be cited but there is no single accepted definition…again and again they fail to achieve what they might if there were sharper definition…show more content…
On the exterior he appears to be what would be deemed an ordinary guy. That is the biggest piece of the satirical irony behind this piece of Poe’s Literature… the idea that maybe the mentally ill that humanity was so afraid of coming in contact with out of fear of their own safety, was hiding right in front of their eyes without their knowledge. Poe does this because he “recognized that victims of mental diseases do not appear to be psychologically ill all the time-the hysterical ravings and incomprehensible babblings do not always identify the insane” (Zimmerman). Poe was astutely aware of this piece of information and used it to his advantage in his writings to bring to light awareness to the fact that the insane could be “individuals who gave every appearance of rationality” (Cleman, 1991

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