Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This reader-centered essay examines four of Poe’s murder tales (“The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Imp of the Perverse,” and “The Cask of Amontillado”) by focusing on the way Poe seduces readers into identifying with criminals. Using Poe’s concept of “perverseness”—the irresistible impulse to do what one should not—the essay examines the ways that Poe plays with perverseness as a means of manipulating reader response. The Imp impels confession in “Imp of the Perverse” but compels both murder and confession in “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” as perverseness becomes an authorial power. “The Cask of Amontillado” represents the culmination of Poe’s experiment with perverseness, as he manipulates reader responses through first, second, and third readings of the tale.

Keywords: The Cask of Amontillado, The Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Imp of the Perverse, perverseness, unreliable narrators, murder, confession, detective tales, reader response

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.