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    The Landlady by Roald Dahl Essay

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    And now a queer thing happened to him. He was in the act of stepping back and turning away from the window when all at once his eye was caught and held in the most peculiar manner by the small notice that was there. BED AND BREAKFAST, it said. BED AND BREAKFAST, BED AND BREAKFAST, BED AND BREAKFAST. Each word was like a large black eye staring at him through the glass, holding him, compelling him, forcing him to stay where he was and not to walk away from that house, and the next thing he knew, he was actually moving across from the window to the front door of the house, climbing the steps that led up to it, and reaching for the bell.

    He pressed the bell. Far away in a back room he heard it ringing, and then at once —it must have been at once because he hadn’t even had time to take his finger from the bell button—the door swung open and a woman was standing there.

    Normally you ring the bell and you have at least a half-minute’s wait before the door opens. But this dame was like a jack-in-the-box. He pressed the bell—and out she popped! It made him jump.

    This passage comes from “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, situated in the middle of the story, after the introduction where the protagonist claimed that he’s not “mad” and before he goes deeper into the story and describe detailed what happen on the night of the murder. In the passage, the protagonist started to present back the story from where it begins, a week before the actual murder, how he did the same things, step-by-step, very carefully for that 7 nights and included also an introduction to what happened on the 8th night, the reason why he did what he did. In this passage from the “Tell-Tale Heart”, Poe had established the protagonist insanity to the reader by the effective use of the character’s speeches, thoughts and actions.

    His insanity is display to the reader firstly through his speeches. The whole story clearly is presented in first person, the protagonist voice. We can see how he described what he did very proudly and once again, claiming that he’s not mad based on how wisely his action was. In detailed, the protagonist said: “Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work!” , along with “Ha! Would a madman have been so wise as this…” The repetition and his voice presentation in his words as he continued the story had also proven his strong self-admiration. We can see in examples in the passage such as: “And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently!”… “Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly –very, very slowly,” and also “And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously –cautiously”. The way he speaks clearly how insane the protagonist was because no ordinary person would ever admire himself and show that much of proudness for killing a man

    Next, the author uses the protagonist’s actions to increase the reader impression to a higher and much stronger level on the character’s insanity. Along with the use of descripted words and imagery through the passage, the reader can easily visualized the scenario of the story, creates stronger and more realistic sense that they can actually feel and lead to a better understanding of the character or more specifically, his insanity. Example from the passage of the author wise choice of characterization can be found such as: “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! 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.” This effect of using the protagonist action has present his insanity in a stronger level because no sane person would take so much time to kill or at least planning to kill a man just because he wanted to be careful.

    Lastly, the protagonist insanity is display strongest through his thoughts. Along with speeches and actions, the thoughts of the man are presented to the reader in a very brilliant way. The speeches and his actions have somehow indirectly included also his thoughts. We can see that he thinks he’s not mad, instead, he’s very wise though the way he speaks. He thinks evidence showed he’s not mad was because he had planned it and did it so carefully which also means in his action. All of those showed the abnormal element inside the character or we can say, his “insanity” but the one that put the biggest impression was the reason why he killed the man. He killed him not because he hates the man, it’s because of his eyes. It’s stated in the passage: “And this I did for seven long nights –every night just at midnight –but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.” This is the point where the protagonist insanity is displayed very clearly to the reader since there is no reason for a normal person to kill a guy just because of his eye, just because that person does not like the guy’s eye.

    So we can see, throughout the whole passage, with using 3 methods of characterization which is through the character’s speeches, actions and thoughts, the idea of the protagonist’s insanity had been clearly revealed to the reader by Edgar Allan Poe very wisely and effectively. This choice of using the 3 methods in achieving his desired effect for the story had made the story very interesting to the people with the tense and suspenseful atmosphere it contains and all the exciting development in the plot that create curiosity. All together, they made up a great story.

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    The Landlady by Roald Dahl Essay. (2017, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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