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Published: 03-11-2019

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Murder and Mental Breakdown in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dr. James Knoll, a forensic psychiatrist, says, “The paranoia exists on a spectrum of severity. … A lot of perpetrators are in the middle, gray zone where psychiatrists will disagree about the relative contributions of moral failure versus mental affliction.” Dr. Knoll mentions that, in murderers, the line that defines their motives tends to be rather grey. Each Dorian Gray of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the narrator in “The Inform-Tale Heart” harbor significant psychological, ultimately leading them to murder the motives behind their actions have related roots: insanity. Dorian Gray and the Inform-Tale Heart narrator each have paranoia and progressively become mentally worse over time, showing the grey location of moral versus mental issues.

The Image of Dorian Gray paints a extremely vivid succession of events that shows a young man’s full transformation from innocence to corruption. Dorian Gray’s journey towards depravity is clearly outlined in the novel: starting with his initial contact with the real globe and ending with him possessing murdered a pal and then killing himself (Wilde 21, 229). Dorian is not born with a broken soul, in fact, he creates it himself, “If it have been I who was to be constantly young, and the image that was to develop old! For that–for that–I would give almost everything! Yes, there is nothing at all in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that! (Wilde 28)” He is haunted by this realization but is not really affected by it till he jilts Sibyl Vane and gains a hideous wrinkle on his portrait (Wilde 96). After this, his descent from purity to tainted to utter corruption gains momentum. In truth, at one particular point he “grew much more and a lot more enamored of his own beauty, more and far more interested in the corruption of his own soul” (Wilde 191). This culminates with Dorian stabbing himself at the finish of the novel (Wilde 229). For his part, the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” does not start off off wholly deranged in the starting of his story the old man’s cataracted eye freaked him out (Poe 64). Even so, the way he went about attempting to rid his mind of the “Evil Eye” was totally mad. His progression towards insanity is much faster than Dorian Gray’s, but, as this is a brief story, the progression makes sense. At very first, he is merely disturbed by the eye, however, entering the old man’s room at midnight to shine a light on the offending eye for a complete week is merely strange (Poe 65). Ultimately, he spends the whole night getting into the old man’s room, he wakes the old man and suffocates, kills, and dismembers him he does not neglect the appendages, as they are stuffed neatly under the floorboards (Poe 66). When he is “confronted” by the police, he believes in his deranged thoughts that they are mocking him and consequently confesses to the murder, attempting to salvage his demented pride he holds from his excellent strategy (Poe 67). This shows just how far gone the narrator is in terms of his mental health, even though he claims in the 1st sentence that he is perfectly fine (Poe 64). Both Dorian Gray and the narrator have a wild but defined progression from mental clarity to mental sickness.

As Dorian Gray commits far more and a lot more awful deeds for the sick amusement of visually tainting his soul, he becomes a lot more and more paranoid that someone will uncover his portrait, in all its old, wrinkly, ugly glory. It starts with Basil’s initial go to to Dorian after Sibyl Vane’s suicide, when he asks Dorian why he has covered the portrait and why he will not let him, the artist, see it (Wilde 115). Dorian is terrified that Basil will find the wrinkle on his otherwise perfect face and something unsavory will occur. As he perpetrates much more questionable acts, he becomes both more enamored with his tainted soul as nicely as protective of it, going as far as to lock it in his old schoolroom and even leaves abruptly in the middle of parties to dash house and make sure nobody has identified his disgusting secret (Wilde 125 144-145). He accumulates an innumerable amount of riches and luxurious items to pass his time, however he is still afraid that, “What if it ought to be stolen? The mere thought made him cold with horror. Certainly the planet would know his secret then. Possibly the planet already suspected it” (Wilde 145). This is a really narcissistic view on his difficulty, contemplating the unlikeliness of the event. When Basil comes to speak to him about Dorian’s public image and the validity of rumors, Dorian lastly relents in displaying the artist the portrait and, taking command from the portrait itself, he stabs his pal in the neck (Wilde 153 160 162). To add on to this monstrosity, Dorian, instead of turning himself in or carrying out something of a moral nature, he blackmails an old friend into dissolving Basil’s body in acid (Wilde 172-178). He tells Alan Campbell that, “You are the only one who is in a position to save me. I am forced to bring you into this matter” (Wilde 172). Alan, in a burst of bluntness, says, “Your life? Very good heavens! What a life that is! You have gone from corruption to corruption, and now you have culminated in crime” (Wilde 176). Dorian’s morality at the finish of the novel has disintegrated into mere shreds of humanity, showing this is a moral concern.

The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” truly believes he is not mad and that his actions are completely normal and justified (Poe 64). His paranoia starts in the type of his program: he is so terrified of the eye that he is prepared to murder the old man just to get rid of it as an alternative of leaving that situation like a regular individual. He checks on the eye each and every night for a week like clockwork, displaying a lot more of his correct colors (Poe 65). His paranoia increases when he chills in the old man’s area for a strong hour right after he wakes him, just to make confident he does not detect his presence until lastly the narrator attacks the old man with fury and kills him simply because he can hear his heartbeat (Poe 66). In order to cover up his crime, he stuffs the old man’s physique components below the floor with a calm disposition, harking to his deranged mental state, which has psychopathic tendencies (Poe 66). When speaking to the police officers, the narrator is in obvious distress, but, at 1st, hides it nicely. However, right after what he has done has been left to stew for awhile in his brain, he becomes much more and much more anxious, considering that the police know precisely what he did but are just smiling and nodding to mock him (Poe 67). Lastly, as he reaches his mental break, he loudly confesses to the crime he committed, partly due to the reality that he believes the old man’s heart is nevertheless beating beneath the floorboards and the police can hear it too (Poe 67). This shows how paranoia and mental illness impacts the major character’s decisions and as a result the outcome of the story.

The Image of Dorian Gray and “The Inform-Tale Heart” are revealing literary examples of the grey area of morality and mental concerns in terms of paranoia and mental degradation. The two main characters, obtaining murdered 1 individual every single, undoubtedly have items in typical concerning their motives, but the line for motives is fuzzy at best. Dr. James Knoll says that the line between moral and mental is difficult to establish when it comes to a murderer’s motives, but there is a level of paranoia in any case.
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