Week 10: Happy Halloween!

Dear American Literature Students. We are slightly past the midway point of the semester and I want to commend you for your excellent weekly posts thus far. I have posted mid-term grades which can be found in the OpenLab Gradebook on the right side of our site homepage (when you click on Check Your Grade, only your grades will be visible to you, when you are logged in).

The possible midterm grades are as follows: P (Passing), BL (Boderline), U (Unsatisfactory/Failing).  The midterm grade does not get recorded on your transcript in any way; it is more just to let you know how you are doing in the class thus far. Every professor should be giving you a midterm grade by 10/30.

Instead of your first formal essay, I am also giving you a grade for the collective work you’ve done so far on your posts. For this class, I will only require one formal essay (4-5 typed pages) on an author and topic of your choice based on material we’ve covered in this class. This essay will be due at the end of the semester but I want you to choose a topic in the next two weeks.

THIS WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT

In celebration of our haunted week, I want to introduce you to one of America’s most famous writers, best known for his horror stories that have influenced fiction and film into the present: Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was America’s first successful author and part of a larger school of artists, writers, and philosophers known as The American Renaissance (or rebirth of literature). For the remainder of the semester, we will be reading authors from this school which include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. All of these authors were ground-breaking for their originality, wild imagination, and general brilliance.

Here is brief biography of Edgar Allan Poe:

For this week’s assignment, I ask you to:

Read: Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”

Listen:  Poe’s “The Raven”

and then [if you can]

View: Stephen King’s 1922 (film) [On Netflix].

WARNING: This film is somewhat violent and has some gory scenes. No need to view this film if you do not like horror films of this kind.

Of particular interest is that King’s film is based on the same premise

of “The Tell-Tale Heart” but changed in terms of setting, length, and film format.

The modern horror writer Stephen King was a big fan of Poe and heavily

influenced by him.

Please post a response to your thoughts on the poem, story, and/or film.

34 Comments

  1. Jingquan Feng

    After I finished the film “1922” Directed by Zak Hilditch, I felt disgusting about all the film characters except the lawer, the son’s girlfriend, and the baby. At the beginning of the movie, everything seems fine, happy family with a farm. But when the wife “Arlette” said that she would sell the place and move to the city, the whole family started to change. Wilfred, the husband, and the son “Hank” didn’t want to leave the farm; he begged the wife to stay and convince her not to sell the farm. At that time, I thought she only wanted the money, but when she heard that Wilfred agree to sell the land and came with her, she was happy and talked dirty about his son’s girlfriend. The words she used made me felt uncomfortable. Before they killed Arlette, Wilfred brainwashed his son and got him in the murder plan, and taught him how to lie to the cop and lawyer. I was astonished about what he did to the son. If you are ordinary people, you will not do this to the son. And maybe this is why Hank became a bandit and die because he did everything wrong as a father. About Hank, the things he did was cold; when he argued with Wilfred, Hank said if his mother was alive, he could get the money he wants. This part made me feel sick because he didn’t care about his mother’s life and had no regret about what he did. About the cop in the movie, they didn’t care about everything, especially women. He believed everything about what Wilfred told him. I think this is sexism because at that time woman is a husband’s “property.” Like Harlan Cotterie, the people who were the girlfriend’s father. His wife always obeys Harlan and says nothing about his decision about sent her daughter to the church. In the end, I felt sad about what happened to Shannon Cotterie, Hank’s girlfriend, and the baby. In this film, she was so innocent, and she and the baby deserved better than this. In my opinion, Wilfred and Hank got what they deserved. Also, this brings up the question about how to become a father? In this case, Wilfred said he did all the things only for Hank, but he did everything wrong and built up a bad figure as a father.

    • Mark

      This is a very good overview of the film and your reactions. Consider, however, how the film connects to Edgar Allan Poe’s story on which it is based: “The Tell-Tale Heart”.

  2. Amoy Russell-Jonas

    The poem “The Raven,” which Edgar Allan Poe performed, is one of American history’s best poems. It articulates the most educative ideas by introducing readers to a dark, mysterious environment. Based on my analysis, the artist appears to be wandering through, showing a weak and weary instance in the poem. It is important to note that Poe’s poem has numerous rhyming words, making it easy to recite and perform. Familiarizing the stanza creates more musicality in the set-piece. Some of the words, which appeared to be bleak words, distinctly consist of “dying ember,” “sorrow,” and “ghost upon the floor,” which distinctly illustrate the dying nature of Lenore. The presentation of “The Raven” has some unique scary nature, making it more real in normal life in contemporary society.
    I found some areas in this video of “the Edgar Allan Poe” about “The Raven” to be more enjoyable and applicable in normal life situations. For instance, “Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door; Darkness there and nothing more.” In the phrase above, the speaker realized that Lenora is not the one haunting him. In other words, the setting and presenting of the poem have some deep satirical meaning, which gives the readers enthusiasm moral taste of a typical life situation. Generally, horror movies, even though they are scary, they form part of contemporary life with moral educative concepts. With numerous kinds of set stylish devices, this video makes it more understandable and memorable. Notably, the speaker accuses the raven of being devilish and demon creatures in the setting. Some memorial parts are that the raven never leaves no matter how hard the narrator tries to get rid of the pain and raven.

    • Mark

      Very thoughtful and interesting analysis Amoy. I especially like your point that Poe’s Horror work is both scary and meaningful.

  3. Jannatul Fateha

    Response to Stephen King’s 1922 (film):
    It’s a good movie example of guilt and the power of that emotion. Even though I’m not a fan of horror movies. This Stephen King film stays true to the iconic image with all the telltale signs of a King’s classic: A haunting grimness that lingers throughout the movie, a tragedy, and of course, outstanding performances. Thomas Jane’s performance was stellar and totally believable as a farmer in rural America in 1922. He actually takes you through the movie as if you were part of it and what is going on it feels like happening to you. The message that Stephen King leaves to us is dreadfully powerful of how greed can destroy all and how it leads to one’s downfall. In the end, the truth shall be revealed. The short appearances of the ghost of his wife (was it his hallucination or reality, that I don’t know), and apparently, the rats really convulsed me out.

    Response to “The Tell-Tale Heart”:
    The story “Tell-Tale Heart” ultimately seems to be about mental illness and emotions of pure confidence as well as pure guilt. Poe may have written this story to shed light on the struggles of someone with mental sickness, as he himself fought with this and alcoholism. The narrator appears to have schizophrenia because of the way he sees things that aren’t there and how he hears things that probably aren’t being said. I think the horrifying thing about the story is that we might be so sure of ourselves but can, in an instant, be broken down and eaten alive by our weaknesses or that we are limited and biased by how we see things in our own brains.

    • Mark

      Very insightful readings into the psychological nature of Poe’s works and the film based on “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Poe, like Freud after him, certainly seems to show that there are “two selves” in all of us, just under the surface–as you so wisely point out.

  4. Galileo D

    Thoughts on ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Raven’
    Tell-Tale Heart
    This short story delves into the actions and thoughts of a person with paranoia and mental deterioration from a first-person perspective. Therefore, I think it generally delves into the mechanisms of thought of a potentially schizophrenic person. One of the most interesting things about the story is that Poe does not give the story much detail, and I think this is an intentional way to showcase the obsessions of the murderer with specific as well as unadorned entities including the eye of the old man, his heartbeat, as well as his own claim to sanity. Therefore, Poe utilizes this minimalistic style as well as pointed language to contribute to the narrative content, and this content excellently typifies paranoia. I also find it interesting that Poe is able to embody the thoughts and perceptions of paranoia, and it makes one wonder if he is suffering from the same because of the way he is able to replicate the thoughts through fictitious narrations accurately.
    The Raven
    This is a poem by Poe which narrates about a man who slowly loses his sanity after an encounter with a Raven in his house. As per the narrations, the story is set in a gothic setting of a lonely apartment and a dying fire. One of the interesting things about the poem is that Poe uses the Raven for several purposes. For instance, the Raven allows the narrator to be both the interpreter as well as a deliverer of the sinister message, without the intervention of a supernatural or paranormal being. In the same manner, ravens are traditionally known to be associated with bad omen, and it is interesting how Poe uses a mixture of these elements to depict the narrator’s demise as he slowly fades into insanity as he created his own fate via the non-sentient animal.

    • Mark

      Very interesting reading into Poe’s obsession with “the actions and thoughts of a person with paranoia and mental deterioration.” I think you’re spot on connecting this obsession with the poet’s own battle with his own internal demons and interest in the Gothic tradition.

  5. Manija Shouff

    “1922” by Stephen King was a bit scary not because of the rats but due to the husband’s greed for the property, land, and how he manipulates his son to assist him with the murder. Wilfred made sure to brain wash his son, every single day he would tell him something to get him on his side. Hank is 14 yrs old, innocent, and gullible who agrees to help his dad. Hank does ask his father if there are other ways to kill her, “can’t you use…with a pillow or something?” he didn’t want her to suffer but knowing Wilfred, he wanted to make sure she had been dead. Wilfred thought once his wife is dead, life will be much better however it had not. Not only did their life change but innocent people have suffered because of him as well. His son runs away with his gf and ends up shooting himself afterwards rats eat his face {gross}, he keeps seeing his wife followed by rats which is his conscience eating him away, his home breaks down, he sleeps in the farm with the cows, due to a bite from a rat he loses his hand, what more could he ask for. At the end of the movie, he ends up selling the land after all which he should have done in the beginning and he would not have lost his hand or son. Overall, the movie was good, it taught me not to trust anyone even the people close to you.

    • Mark

      Manija,

      You do a fine job pointing to key elements in the film, especially your focus on the father’s psychological manipulation of his son. This is true Edgar Allan Poe material: how horribly wily and gullible humans can be!

  6. Marjan Ahmed

    Just after listening couple of lines from the poem Poe’s “The Raven” I felt the narrator is trying to make a scary and mysterious environment for the listener. Reminded of the scary movies I watched in the past. The first line of the poem made me think the author is in some sort of trouble or had a hard time in the past as he says, “…while I pondered, weak and weary.” As I listened through the poem a little more, I found out the author lost his wife Lenore recently and was trying to forget about the loss. Unlike the modern days where people start drinking right away, Poe was reading, good to know. I like how there were some of the unique rhyming which signals towards the death of this wife. For example, “Distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember…” Soon after he hears a tapping sound in his door, first thought comes to his mind is, it could be his dead wife’s spirit. He says, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before…”ok I might sound weird now, but Poe was devastated and filled with sorrow for the loss of his wife and now he is scared that his wife might have come back, well not as a human. Of course, he should be scared because someone dead cane to life but at least he could say goodbye to his wife one last time if it was actually his wife. Since it was his wife and he loved her, she wouldn’t hurt him, I guess. I would be scared but not like terrified, but wait, there was nothing when he opened the door but darkness and silence. Later he convinced himself that it cannot be Lenore and actually someone trying to comfort him in the hard time of his life, yet nothing but silence. Later he meets with a raven who actually talks and identifies himself as “Nevermore.” The author starts asking it more question, but it seems to be only saying one word. This poem has become one of my favorite poems and the narrator Christopher Lee makes the Poem 10 times better, I really enjoyed listening to his narration. The situation of the author is very normal, when someone loses a beloved person, many thoughts come to their minds. As the author started talking to a bird and connects himself with it that grief and sadness can lead a person to become lazy and reduce the motivation in life. The loneliness and sorrow can make them think and do stuff they would never do.

    • Mark

      Marjan, Very insightful post. Your point about Poe’s ability to create a “scary and mysterious environment” is particularly applicable to the Gothic Tradition to which the author belongs. T he horror genre and psychological thriller owe much of their power and effect to mood and setting — elements which Poe brought to perfection.

  7. jawad awada

    Throughout history there have been many intriguing American authors that have created some of the most interesting novels that can be found. Stephen King is one of the most famous American authors and is known for his choice of horror as his theme when it comes to his novels. Stephen King is actually someone that i’m familiar with mainly because of his “IT” book. There were a couple movies released regarding this book and the most recent was a couple years ago and it was a highly anticipated movie so his name stood out to me. Horror is something that catches my attention so Stephen King is the perfect author when it comes to trying to find anything that has to do with horror. After viewing the film 1922 it was very fun to watch mainly because of how big of a fan iam when it comes to scary movies. Wilfred James who is the main character was able to manipulate his son Hank who was only 14 years old in order to help him commit a murder. He was able to convince him which is very sadistic on the father’s part. Wilfred was married to Arlette and Hank was their only son so having Wilfred do what he did was very unfair to the innocent kid. There are so many weird parts in this movie, like when Hank decides to end up killing himself and then rats decide to completely eat his face off, makes me wonder why on earth would Stephen King even think about something so disgusting. Wilfred keeps having these nightmares wear he sees a ghost of his wife that he killed and her face was also chewed off by rats. Overall Wilfred was a terrible father and Hank was a terrible child because being in a situation like that you should do whatever it takes to get away from a life like that even though it was his own father sometimes we as humans do the unthinkable for the people we care about. A quote that was very interesting was when hank said “I believe that there is another man inside every man”. This quote stood out to me because every person I believe has thoughts that may seem evil but only a select few would follow through on those thoughts.

    • Mark

      Jawad, Terrific post. I’m glad you enjoyed the film so much. I also like how you picked out the quote: “I believe that there is another man inside every man”.
      So much of this film and King’s writing draws from Edgar Allan Poe’s understanding of man’s psychology. We see this in his story “The Tell-Tale Heart” told from the perspective of a “madman” who is really a divided soul, who cannot help but confess his crime.

      I recommend focusing on a comparison of Poe’s story to the film. This would make for a great Final paper, made particularly interesting by your keen understanding of Stephen King’s works.

  8. Brianna Lesperences

    Response to Tell-Tale Heart
    In Tell-Tale-Heart before the narrator begins it seams like the narrator is trying to convince the reader that he is indeed sane even though he hints at a disease which most can seem to agree is most likely a mental illness, “True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute.” As he goes on he admits that he actually loved the old man and there was no particular reason on why he killed him except for what he calls his “evil eye”. Towards the end of the reading, once he committed the murder the narrator quickly began to fill with guilt. Due to his “disease” I can only infer that it intensified the guilt he felt. Which he soon began to hear the heartbeat over and over leading to his confession of the murder to the police.
    Response to The Raven
    In The Raven the reader is put into a more dark and gloomy setting, The man within the poem is slowly starting to slip into being a “madmen” because of he can’t let go of his lover Lenore. The raven seems to represent a deliverer of some sort, telling the man “nevermore” when asked if he will ever see his lover again. I really liked the that Poe used the idea of the raven being a messenger or representing a prophet. Many people look at ravens and because of their appearance, they get a reputation as being birds of bad luck but Poe actually used the real meaning behind the birds and included that in his poem to show how insightful they are.

    • Mark

      Good readings of each piece Brianna. You picked a key quote that applies to so much of Poe’s work:
      True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute.”
      Guilt, grief, and other repressed emotions lie within us all! And yes, beware of birds showing up in any work of fiction–or film for the matter (see Alfred Hitchcock’s “THE BIRDS” if you haven’t).

  9. Dan

    I made the mistake of eating while watching the movie “1922.” I felt there was similarity with this film, and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.” With both main characters have a loss of something they will never get back, and in both stories, animals could be a metaphor for an emotional pain that is reminding them of that. With the main character in “1922,” this would be the loss of an innocents, followed by guilt, and torment, and with the main character of “The Raven,” loss of a loved one. As the rats in “1922,” bite at the conscious of the villainous farther, the raven taps away at the soul the mourning. Both characters have lost something in the material world, and hance lost part of themselves which has been replaced with a nagging emotional pain. One character may be a victim of the paces of life, while the other character is a victim of his own doing, they both endure the same fate of soul gripping anguish.

    • Mark

      You make interesting parallels to the poem and film, Dan.
      Something lurks deep within us all, especially after wrong-doing or loss –as you so insightfully point out.

      Sorry to have ruined your meal!

  10. Dkaran

    Response to Stephen King’s 1922 (film):
    Stephen King novels always contain horror, suspense and crime that always have you on the edge of your seat reading or watching because you don’t know what to expect next. I love reading Stephen King’s novels “The Outsider”, “Pet Sematary”, “Salem’s Lot”, “The Shining” and of course “It” because they all tie together. In 1922, Wilfred is a hardworking farmer but is having trouble with his wife because she wants to sell their land and move to the city with Hank to open a dress store with her half of the money. After Wilfred and his son Hank planned and killed Arlette everything they touched is cursed. Hank’s girlfriend dies of a gunshot wound which leads him to kill himself. While Wilfred has to sell his land for cheap and move to the city which he never wanted to do. I think if Wilfred would have agreed with Arlette to sell their land and move to the city everyone would be alive still and they would be a happy family. “Underlying theme of “1922” — murder is not merely a terrible crime, but an unforgivable mortal sin that will forever curse its perpetrators”(Joe Leyden). After watching 1922, it made me realize one wrong action in life could really affect your future outcomes like a domino effect.

    • Mark

      Deonarine,

      I’m very impressed by your deep familiarity with so much of Stephen King’s work. This is a very interesting post that conveys the natural laws with us all that seem to govern wrong-doing. As you keenly point out, in a moral universe “one wrong action in life could really affect your future outcomes like a domino effect.”

  11. Lisbeth Rivas

    I watched 1922 by Stephen King not so long ago. At first, after Wilfred killed his wife, I found the movie predictable because I had a feeling he was going to kill her in the first place and for a dumb reason. Towards the ending of the movie, we see how badly the guilt affected Wilfred enough to the point that he starts hallucinating about his dead wife, son, and his son’s girlfriend. The guilt starts to grow more and more causing Wilfred to struggle to fully comprehend what he’s done. He tries to avoid the guilt he is feeling by keeping himself busy but eventually, even that does not help him. The Tell-Tale Heart was an interesting story to read. At first, I thought that he explaining the murder was his imagination, then, later on, I caught on that he was in the process of committing the murder. I find it funny how he was extremely confident in himself thinking that he could fool the police, even though he did fool them at first, but he dug his own grave by becoming paranoid and thinking that they were playing games with him to make him confess the crime. In reality, it was his guilty conscience hearing the beat of a heart.

    • Mark

      Very good response Lisbeth of the film and story. There does seem to be a big connection between the two, which would make for an interesting longer essay.

      I agree with you that the film is a bit predictable. It really could have used a detective scene, taken from the Tell-Tale Heart, in which the sheriffs poked around a bit and Wilfred ultimately confessed. Poe wins with his version I believe!

  12. Richard Li

    As much as I can watch scary/horror movies like the Saw series, 1922 is on a completely different level than that and IT. The horror movies I watch are usually easy to understand and the storyline is completely sane, while in 1922 the storyline is complete sanity. The farmer killing his wife for financial gain for himself, but INCLUDING his son to participate is just crazy. Just like in the movie IT, there was also a problem with a family, as Beverly Marsh had an abusive dad, while in 1922 the dad is straight crazy and insane. Every detail in the movie was so specific that you can see everything happening from the throat being slit to seeing the slit throat. In general, Stephen King is a great writer though I have not really read much of his work, but his movies make it up as it is just as scary as reading it. I don’t get how Stephen King can write all of this and not get nightmares.

    • Mark

      You make a great point here about the gripping realism of the film, taken a bit from Poe’s own interest in realistic writing. Your last point about Stephen King is very funny but it does remind me of how Poe himself was truly haunted, seemingly on the verge of insanity. In interviews I’ve watched, King however seems to be perfectly sane — a little odd though.

  13. Najeh Marcus

    I remember reading the “Tell-Tale Heart” in ninth grade. Rereading it just made reminisce about my first time reading it and the assignment along with it. My first time reading my assignment was if the main character was insane or not. It was similar to like if we were a defense attorney or a prosecutor and we were trying to prove him innocent or guilty. Back then I wrote that he was guilty. Looking back on it now I don’t really know what verdict a court would reach if this was real. Still, this was an interesting albeit dark reading. I read a few other stories from Edgar Allen Poe and they all seem to be kind of dark and focus on a different theme. I also watched the movie in 1922. I would say it was also a good watch and was also really dark. I didn’t really expect it to go in the direction that it did and it ended tragically. The main quote that I remembered from the movie was “I believe that there is another man inside of every man, a stranger, a Conniving Man”. The main character Wilfred James didn’t have to go the route he went but he gave into the conniving man inside him. I can’t say that is the main theme but my takeaway from it is that we all have a conniving man inside us and if we give into it our life can go down a path similar to Wilfred James and his son.

    • Mark

      Najeh,

      I believe you did hit on the main theme of the film (and short story): “I believe that there is another man inside of every man, a stranger, a Conniving Man”.

      Poe does seem to have invented the modern divided self — long before Sigmund Freud!

      Nicely done.

  14. chris castellon

    After finishing the film “1922” by Zak Hilditch, I can’t lie I was very surprised on how things have started to escalate through the film. For example the husband was greedy for land, property and it sickens me how he manipulates his own SON to assist him to murder. This frustrates me on how much of a bad example this father is to his son. His son has already grown accustomed to killing for his father because his son asks him: “can’t you use with a pillow or something?” not to mention Wilfred would brain wash his son everyday to ensure his loyalty to him. But during the story Wilfred’s son had a girlfriend and ran away but commits suicide, most likely he felt guilty for what he has done with his life which is my opinion. In the end Wilfred sells his land which is pretty dumb if you ask me because he could’ve saved his son from killing himself from the very beginning and didn’t have to make other people suffer as well.

    • Mark

      The theme of guilt (and the divided self) is certainly the central theme behind this film (and many of Poe’s own works.

      Good job on this (and the additional excellent posts I see you’ve made up), Chris.

  15. Daniela Martinez

    Response to “Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

    Let me comment first that I love Edgar Allan Poe; I could read all his works, and I would not get tired of it. But, I never heard of “Tell-Tale Heart.” Reading “Tell-Tale Heart” for the first time was a delightful joy because I had to analyze the psychology of the character that Poe had in mind when he wrote it. At first, I thought that the speaker was the Death itself. Death was waiting patiently to kill his future victim, but the man discovered it before committing the act. However, at some point, I thought it made no sense that Death would be around when the person states, “because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim.” After that line, I started to create possibilities of who must have wanted the old man dead. As a result, I came up with two ideas: his wife, who was tired of his blue eyes, or his slave was afraid of the old man’s eyes, so he took the advantage to kill him at midnight. Nevertheless, I solved the enigma by merely following the wife’s alibi and how the police officers treated her when they talked to her.

    Edgar Allan Poe was always famous for making conundrums in his stories so people could start to think of the real horror that our minds can have. In a “Tell-Tale Heart,” there is only a narrator who describes its crime events and the horrific motives that lead him or her to murder the older guy. It was a fascinating and frightful story, as could be expected from Poe.

  16. Mark

    Daniela,

    I do indeed see you a big fan and incisive reader of Edgar Allan Poe. You capture well Poe’s keen insight into human psychology in this short, yet marvelous tale.

  17. Afshan S (Lil B)

    I found “1922” (the film) to be a more fleshed out homage to Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” in that it explores themes of gender at a time where men were typically the head of the household and had the final word in every instance. Something that I find sad about the movie is that even now, in 2020, some men think of killing their wives when they propose that they get divorced. Men like this feel that they are entitled to their wives as though they were their own property, and any retaliation warrants husbands to kill their wives. Even though “Tell-Tale Heart” is fairly short, it shows how guilt tortures the narrator immensely and confesses shortly after the police arrive, whereas the “1922” shows how Wilfred and his son’s guilt gnaws away at them almost daily, leading them to act in very sporadic and self-damaging behaviors. I felt the sorriest for the son, Henry, for participating in killing his mother, and for his girlfriend Shannon who dies a very slow death as a consequence of the men in her life. Henry knew that once he had gotten Shannon pregnant, his past, innocent life as a 15-year old was very much over, and that he was so desperate to run away that he stole his father’s truck, leading Wilfred to take a mortgage out on his farm and get into a massive amount of debt. Instead of hearing the victim’s heartbeat like the narrator did in “Tell-Tale Heart,” Wilfred sees and hears rats everywhere he goes. After selling his farm, Wilfred goes to Omaha and tries living a normal life, but is haunted by rats at his factory job and is too scared to continue, so he drinks his life away and is finally killed by the ghosts of his wife, son, and Shannon. All of this would have been avoided if it wasn’t commonplace for men to react so negatively to their wives wanting to separate from them. There’s a moment in the film near the beginning where Wilfred says that there’s “Another man inside every man – a stranger,” and towards the end of the movie, he confesses to the audience that there was another way of handling the whole situation, a situation where everyone could stay alive, “But in 1922, the conniving man [emphasis on the man part] inside farmer Wilfred James had begged to differ.” The movie ends with Wilfred saying “In the end, we all get caught,” signaling that in some cosmic way, we cannot avoid punishment for the evil deeds that we do. Another thing to note is that women got the right to vote in 1920, two years before the film takes place, and before then, men were vehemently against women voting, let alone getting divorced and living better than men did, which adds to the political timing. Overall the movie felt simple in the realm of being scary, that being haunted by your own wrongdoing is a trope in almost every horror/thriller movie – but I think the themes of gender are something worth exploring in its aftermath.

    • Mark

      Afshan,

      You make exceptionally insightful points about the film itself and its relationship to Poe’s story. The gender issues you raise are very important and original, a topic worth considering further as we explore the rise of the woman’s rights movement after our focus on Henry David Thoreau. Consider a final paper on this topic if it interests you.

  18. Lionel Desroses

    It has said that different situations will bring out another part of us that we did not even know existed. Everyone seems to be a kind personality till they were being put in a situation where they have to step out of character and act accordingly. Many would disagree with this statement, but it is true very accurate. Men have done stuff that they would have never thought of doing. A man is capable of doing anything when it is required, even kill if needed at the moment. Still, the man’s conscience will be there to destroy him later on in life when he comes back to his senses because when someone steps out of character and do the unthinkable, they are not actually thinking of the consequence or what happens later on. When they are done doing the act and thought they got away with it, later on, the conscience comes back to haunt you for your action. Like in the movie “1922,” the man was put in a situation where he did not want to lose his farm or anything because a man farm was a man pride, so he had to act in some unthinkable way to keep the farm. He stated that “I believe that there’s another man inside every man, a stranger, a conniving man” this shows that every man has another personality that is crazy enough to kill someone when something goes wrong, or they disagree with like in the poem by Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”. He stated that “I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! He had the eye 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”. this shows that if you give a man reason to step out of character to do the unthinkable. Like how in this quote, the guy did not like the older man’s eyes for that he feels like he had to kill him to get the eyes, and in the movie 1922, the guy felt like he had to kill his wife, so he would not lose the farm. After both of these men had committed this type of crime came, they consciences to remind them of what they did like in the poem. Edgar stated that “but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder –louder –louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! –no,… “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!””. This show how after killing the man for his eyes, the man heart would not stop beating, which is impossible, but for him, he kept on hearing the beating heart over and over and over till he could not take it anymore and yell out where the body was and that he had killed the old man. Man is a very mysterious creature; you never know what would come out of them.

    • Mark

      Lionel,

      You deftly probe into the depths of human psychology that Poe first began exploring in his work. Your comparison of the story to the film is also intriguingly handled.
      Great post!

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