David. We hear this name throughout Hitchcock's Rope. But we get only one glimpse of David -- while he's being strangled. As the camera tracks back, we see that the active strangler is Phillip, Brandon standing at his side holding David's body upright in a tight, steady grip. Both men wear gloves as a barrier between their victim and their touch. Once David is stashed away in the living room chest, we see no more of him. But we keep hearing his name: "David," spoken by Brandon, Phillip, Rupert, his father, friends, and potential fiancée.
Hitchcock's Rope follows a Gothic trope here, in that it constructs "David" as less a person than an idea, a body and thus a complex symbol: an object signifying other things. We've seen this in Edgar Allan Poe's work with names such as "Madeline," "Roderick," "Usher," "Ligeia," and the old man in "The Tell-Tale Heart," whose so-called friend reduces him to an object in focusing--with both curiosity and disgust--on his cloudy eye. We've seen this many times before in Hitchcock, as well, with names like "Mother," "Thorwald," "Madeleine," and "Charlie." So, what does "David" represent in Rope? One thing? Many things? Things that are out in the open and that go unnoticed? Things that are bubbling beneath the surface of this polite society of friends and family?
Rope is so full of in-jokes around Brandon and Phillip's homosexuality, it would be too easy to say, simply: David is a representation of repressed homosexuality in an oppressively heteronormative society. In fact, the film associates murder and the impulse towards violence so clearly with homosexual sex and love, it risks charges of outright homophobia. These issues are barely hidden in the film, coming to a kind of fruition when Rupert tells Phillip and Brandon that David "could live and love as you never could." Spectators of the film may read it within or against such claims. But what happens when we turn the focus to David or "David"?
Explore this question in relation Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." What does comparing the two works reveal about the significance of the old man in Poe and David or "David" in Rope as symbols? You may wish to revisit the film's ending speech by Rupert. You may also wish to draw comparisons to either "The Imp of the Perverse" or "The Black Cat," both of which we will discuss Wednesday.
5/11/2018 02:45:41 pm
Hitchcock’s David in ROPE and the old man in Poe’s THE TELL-TALE HEART are both murdered by the protagonists of these works. However, there is an eerie similarity in both of these deaths and it’s that both of them are murdered for no real, concrete reason, and yet both of their murders fancy themselves completely sane, even above anyone else. In ROPE, Brandon is convinced his murder is justified by the simple fact that he considers himself above the basic human morality, and thinks David is inferior, therefore unimportant. This reasoning makes perfect sense to him, he truly believes he did no wrong. In THE TELL-TALE HEART, the narrator murders the old man simply because of his eye. He even admits time and time again that he had no reason to kill him. The narrator states, “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man.(Poe 317)” Both these murders had no real motive to murder their victims, and that is an extremely perverse reason within itself. In THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE, Poe states, “We perpetuate them merely because we feel that we should not. (Poe 405)” In that sense, both ROPES’s David and THE TELL-TALE HEART’s old man are victims of perverse actions done simply for the sake of doing them, and yet both of the victims themselves are representations of a perverse thing, for example David is a physical representation of the homosexual relationship between Brandon and Phillip and the old man’s eye could be seen as a representation of society looking in on the narrator’s perverse actions, haunting him for his perverse decisions. In both these works as well, the only reason the protagonists are discovered is because they let themselves be discovered. Whereas Brandon allows Rupert to open the chest, the narrator blatantly admits it to the police, whereas he could’ve stayed quiet and Brandon could’ve made Rupert leave. David and the old man’s eyes are more props to represent perversion than actual people. However, David is seen as inferior and unimportant whereas the old man’s eye is seen as overwhelmingly haunting and oppressive, which is an important distinction to make when comparing these works. Brandon and Phillip murder David because they deem him worthless, but the narrator murders the old man because that part of his body contains too much horrible meaning for him to handle.
5/11/2018 05:24:02 pm
Julia, this is a solid and thorough response with a clear and specific focus--that of a kind of shared superiority between the perpetrators of the crimes in the Poe story and the film. I like the development at the beginning, and it's good that you bring in a reference to Poe's "Imp of the Perverse." If you were to develop this into an essay, the original "Who cares?" question is implicit here, but powerful: that comparing the two works helps us to identify a certain shared superiority, pretty obvious in Brandon, and much less so in Poe. Thus, the comparison has revealed something we might not otherwise have noticed about Poe's narrator.
5/11/2018 05:25:37 pm
TO THE CLASS, REGARDING THIS FIRST RESPONSE:
5/11/2018 08:35:31 pm
I agree with Julia when she states that the murders in both Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” and in Hitchcock’s ROPE were committed for the sake of committing murder and due to a sentiment of supremacy over the victim. However, the protagonists in these works did not entirely allow themselves to be discovered. In addition to sharing a sense of superiority, the true murderers, Philip and the narrator, in both works also share guilt about the deed. It was Philip’s regret that did them in and the narrator’s remorse that exposed him. The guilt felt by both protagonists, Philip and Poe’s narrator, is expressed by the loss of self-control. Neither murderer could’ve contained himself and avoided suspicion. Poe’s narrator hears what he believes to be the heartbeat of the old man and is haunted by it. However, the old man is dead, therefore he does not have a beating heart. What the narrator hears is a product of his guilt and is all-consuming, this is what eventually causes him to become aggressive and confess his crime. Comparatively, Philip becomes more and more anxious and defensive each time David’s name is mentioned, particularly by his loved ones. His irritated state is what rose Rupert’s suspicion. The speaking of David’s resonates the beating of the heart in Poe’s short story. To Philip, David is merely a reminder of the sin he had committed just as Poe’s narrator’s own heartbeat is a reminder of his transgression. This remorse is what caused them both to be caught, ensuing their own downfall. Poe’s “The Imp of the Perverse” explores this idea when he states that if we do not resist to the perverse, we “plunge and are destroyed” (405). This resonates with the destruction of Philip and Poe’s narrator on a psychological and social level. The end of both stories suggest they will receive a form of punishment for their crimes.
5/11/2018 11:15:01 pm
In both Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Hitchcock’s ROPE, murdered men take on roles that are larger than life, seemingly having more of an effect on their murderers than they ever could have when alive. Both stories also share the similarity of having the murderers themselves be the most compelling, developed characters in the respective works. In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator kills the old man, who he claims to love, because of his pale blue, accusatory eye. In ROPE, Phillip and Brandon kill David, one of their oldest friends because they deem him inferior, thus not deserving of life. Both victims can be seen as representing different sides of society and its norms: the eye, representing the critical side of society, always watching, striking fear into those who dare to defy it, and David, the reliable mutual friend that acts as the glue between everyone at the party. Throughout ROPE, the guests grow more and more worried by David’s absence, saying that he has never been late in his life. This stability is seen by the murderers, more specifically Brandon, as a display of complacence and an example of inferiority that he uses to justify the crime. Brandon—and Phillip to a lesser extent—shares many similarities with “The Tell-Tale Heart”’s murderous narrator, namely his eventually self-destructive confidence. Throughout ROPE, Brandon shows very little desire to hide his crime and flaunts it at every occasion, from setting the meal on the chest to tying the books with the rope. The same way Poe’s narrator leads the officers directly to the scene of the crime to revel in his accomplishment, Brandon smugly leads Rupert through the crime’s execution until, like the narrator, Phillip finally breaks and confesses to the murder.
6/11/2018 08:24:36 am
In the Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator murders the old-man, who was once his friend, because of his cloudy eye, but we get the idea that the eye is an excuse to murder him. This leads to the conclusion that there is no apparent reason to kill him. It was simply because he wanted to, which is what the perverse is about, as mentioned in The Imp of the Perverse by Poe “a mobile without motive… we act without comprehensible objects” (p. 403). Similar to The Black Cat by Poe, the narrator kills his cat, Pluto, for no actual reason. “This spirit of perverseness… it was his unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself — to offer violence to its own nature — to do wrong for the wrong’s sake only” (p. 350).
6/11/2018 12:50:24 pm
ROPE is an abjection of inferiority that manifests through society. Throughout the film, Brandon expresses his hatred towards David, a mere representation of superiority. David is clearly the odd one out of of the attendees of the party as he doesn’t have to prove himself superior or defend his power because everyone already knows about his perfect character. They all argued about his politeness, his brightness, punctuality, etc. His lack in showcasing his own qualities disturbed and threatened Brandon. Not being able to accept his lack of power, Brandon argued that murder should be reserved to the superior individuals. That being said, being a part of the execution of the murder proved to himself that he is, in fact, superior to David. He revolts against society’s construct by citing: “Davids of this world merely occupy space” (ROPE). By murdering such a powerful ideal, Brandon also amplifies the importance of social classes to individuals. He loathes David, a character that we only see once and who’s entire personality is constructed by others opinion. That being said, Brandon fears inferiority and judgement from others. After murdering David, he had to showcase the power that he had gained and performed his irrationality to defend himself. Similarly the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-tale heart” seems satisfied and proud by the perfect execution of the murder of the old man.He is disgusted by the old man’s eye because it made him feel uncomfortable and reminded him of death. It arises the narrator's fear of unfamiliarity. He cites: “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold” (Poe 317). Just like Brandon, the narrator has the need to destroy what unsettles him. Both characters express their thoughts on society by arguing that the world is rotten when the problem is merely just themselves. They mask their fears of the uncanny through abjection that they will destroy in order to gain control and to justify their irrationality to others. They have an unsettling sense of what is rational and was is not. Brandon and especially the narrator of “Tell-tale heart” don’t seem to notice or are avoiding to notice the immorality of their actions.
6/11/2018 04:20:10 pm
As Julia and Vanessa have outlined, the murderers in both “The Tell-Tale Heart” and ROPE feel a sense of superiority over their victims which compels them to dispose of those peoples’ lives as they wish. To add to that, there’s another element in play regarding the characters’ actions which must be discussed. People can objectify others, not necessarily with sexual intentions as the connotation of the word often implies, but rather as a means to express repressed feelings onto. Fears, desires, impulses, you name it, can be projected on someone with the goal of appeasing your inner itch. That unfortunate “victimized” person inevitably becomes the symbol for virtually anything you want them to be, either them as a whole, or a specific part of them. The “Tell-Tale Heart” focuses precisely on the fear aspect in great part. The old man’s eye becomes the object of interest which incarnates symbolically the meaning for the oh-so terrifying malevolent gaze. As such, the unsuspecting elderly man becomes sufferer of the narrator’s need for escaping his own dread of this terrifying cosmic concept. The veiled eye becomes an outlet, a possibility for the storyteller to confront that fear even though, he holds no grudge towards the beholder of the eye. ROPE explores in a similar way the underlying insecurities and need for affirmation. Why does Phillip engage in the murder? It’s never explicitly stated, although there are two things we know for sure, the first being his obvious affection to and relationship with Brandon. The second is his dominated attitude towards his partner. We also witness him blaming Brandon several times for making him commit the crime, furthermore confirming that a likely reason for the killing on Phillip’s part was to prove his self-worth, or capability of doing something of such gravity with and for his collaborator. In all likelihood, that need stems from an unassertiveness which demanded to be improved in Brandon’s eyes. What Phillip lacks in confidence, Brandon makes up in conviction of supremacy. A sense of superiority which brings to him the desire of asserting it. Both characters, find the perfect way of accomplishing their unconscious needs, that of using David’s life and body as an outlet for either their insecurity or desire. Once again, just as with the old man in “The Tell-Tale Heart” not having any particular hatred for the murdered himself.
6/11/2018 05:27:51 pm
The wait is the driving force in both ROPE and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. David, the victim of the crime in ROPE, is nothing more than a placeholder. Brandon states that, “the Davids of this world merely occupy space” and that the murder was justified, because they were getting rid of, what he believes, is a waste of space similar to other wastes of space. There are no notable differences between David or Kenneth, in terms of how both individuals present (or presented, in the case of David) themselves, they are extremely similar: both are young, wealthy, and active members of society. Therefore, what David embodies precedes who David is. Throughout the film, the guests are persistently asking about David. The two culprits, however, know for certain that David will never arrive, yet their behaviour betrays their growing anticipation. Brandon and Philip are two sides of the same coin, and their behaviour mirrors one another. Brandon’s flaunting of the murder weapon and Philip’s anxious piano playing are both different displays of their same culpability. If their sole desire was punishment, then they might have attempted a grander performance, however, they did not do this and committed the murder within the secrecy of David’s home. They then invited all of David’s friends and loved ones over as if it were an exhibition. This suggests that they are not only motivated by the thrill of the crime, but of the suspense of their capture. Thus, David embodies the delay or the wait that comes before punishment. The very same can be said about the old man from “Tell-Tale Heart” whose body is buried beneath the floorboards of his own home. The narrator invites the police officers to the scene of the crime in order to flaunt the act. Rope and “Tell-Tale Heart” are almost, if not entirely, identical in this regard. The protagonists of both works are simultaneously delaying their capture by misleading their audience and accelerating it by creating an atmosphere of close proximity between the victim and those who search for him. Their desire to murder is only matched by their desire to wait.
6/11/2018 05:47:41 pm
Vanessa brings up the very interesting point that Philip feels guilty about the murder he committed. She compared it to the beating of the heart in a “Tell-Tale Heart”. I would like to elaborate on the this idea and state that the heart in a “Tell-Tale Heart” acts in a similar fashion as David’s corpse (which will be referred to as “David”) in ROPE. “David” is a representation of Philip’s guilt. He feels remorse for having taken the life of an innocent man. As Vanessa mentioned, the heart is a symbol of the narrator’s guilt in a “Tell-Tale Heart”. It comes to haunt him right after he believed he had gotten away with his perverse deed. The reason why he, only, can hear it beating is because he is the owner of it. He took the life of the old man, making it belong to him. This, also, makes Philip the owner of “David” since he is the one who took his life by strangling him, the beating of David’s heart belongs to him. Furthermore, the narrator is the only person who can hear it since no one else is conscious of the murder. It is, therefore, trapped in his mind. Philip trapped “David” in what acts as a coffin, the murder doesn't exist in his guests mind, simply in his and Brandon’s. The beating of the heart becoming progressively louder, along with the continuing decay of “David” are constant reminders of the ever growing guilt that lies in the characters. The narrator’s took over him, he started showing clear signs of distress, “I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men-- but the noise steadily increased” (Poe 320). So did Philip which Brandon was always quick to defend. The only way their guilt was put to an end was when both Philip and the narrator had their actions discovered. The coffin was opened and the sound was spoken about, freeing them of “David” and the beating heart.
6/11/2018 05:53:10 pm
7/11/2018 01:55:45 pm
... in ROPE. There's a distinct difference between David and "David", the person he once was is no longer "someone", but "something".
6/11/2018 06:31:21 pm
In “A Tell Tale Heart”, the narrator is terrified of the old man’s eye, and is ultimately driven to murder because of it. In ROPE, David is strangled to death by two men, Brandon and Phillip. While many arguments have been made by my classmates about what both David and the old man’s eye represent, I’d like to discuss the possibility of both being representations of perversion. The eye, or “I”, haunts the narrator throughout the entire short story. If we chose to read the eye as “I”, we chose to see the eye as a mirror reflecting the narrator’s own self back at him. He is deathly afraid of something he sees deep within himself, yet he is also drawn to it. The “I” is his own perversion, it attracts him and haunts him, leading him to commit murder for seemingly no apparent reason, as he “loved the old man” (Poe 317) and “it was not the old man who vexed [him], but his Evil Eye.” (317). The Evil “I”, the narrator’s own innate perversion, was the driving force behind his sudden need to murder the old man in cold blood. Along the same lines, David from ROPE could be viewed as the personification of perversion. Brandon uses his superiority complex to justify his killing, but he and Phillip have no distinct, clear motive. They had no reason to kill David, they merely had a “radical, primitive impulse” (403), three words Poe uses to describe perversion in “The Imp of the Perverse”. Rupert tells Brandon at the end of the film: “There must have been something deep inside you from the very start that let you do this thing.”, referring to David’s murder. Perversion is an inherent part of us all, and it is always present within us. Just as the old man’s vulture eye seems to constantly be watching the narrator, David is a perpetual presence within the film. In fact, the entire movie revolves around David’s presence, or lack thereof. Furthermore, even if David is not shown on screen after his death in the opening scene, his body lies in the chest, which is on screen quite a bit, and haunts Phillip throughout the entire film, just like the eye haunts the narrator in “A Tell Tale Heart”. The murderers in both works commit crimes for the sole “reason that [they] should not” (403), and are overwhelmed by their victims, by their own perversion.
6/11/2018 06:34:21 pm
Please disregard my use of "A Tell Tale Heart" as it is supposed to be "The Tell-Tale Heart".
6/11/2018 08:08:08 pm
Victoria argued that the old man in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and David in ROPE symbolize mirrors on whom the main character and the narrator project their insecurities. I agree with what she said, however, I believe it would be more appropriate to qualify David and the old man as distractions from the killer’s character traits, to the reader and the public. In the tell-tale heart, the narrator’s main goal is to prove that he is not mad by describing how minutely he committed a murder. He quite obviously asks us “How, then, am I mad?” considering “how healthily—how calmly [he] can tell you the whole story” (Poe 403). He wants us to look at what he has done, instead of judging who he is. Although he may be sane—as we have discussed in class— his lack of compassion and sensitivity for his victim only reinforces the negative perspective the reader has of him. In ROPE, Philip and Brandon commit a murder because they—particularly Brandon— believe there exists a hierarchy based on individuals’ value, and that some are worth more than others. Almost as a showman, Brandon performs for us through the way he entertains his guests. He wants to show the public how clever he is; how he outsmarted everyone. He diverts our attention to his intelligence, rather than his perversion. But, his recklessness and lack of compassion do the exact opposite. In summary, David and the old man are failed attempts of the main characters to divert our gaze from them, to their actions.
6/11/2018 08:13:29 pm
In both Poe’s short story ‘The Black Cat’ and Hitchcock’s ROPE, the sublime is a common denominator that compels us to keep reading /watching even if we’re repulsed. Poe’s narrator says his ‘wonder and [his] terror were extreme’ (351). In Hitchcock’s ROPE, Brandon and Phillip kill David (which should horrify us), chose to hide the body in the book chest, and use the chest as a diner table. The narrators’ actions should repel us and make us hate them, but we are compelled by them, we cheer for them and don’t want the body found. This duality created in both works is a great example of how the sublime conveys well the narrator/s’ perverseness and serve to show how the ‘victim[s] of their cruelty’; become what tortures them. Poe’s doppelganger black cat, or ROPE’s repetition of the name ‘David’, are constant reminders of how the characters perverseness (Poe, 351) haunts them, by way of the sublime. This is applicable in both Poe and Hitchcock’s works; Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’ narrator states: [knew I the blessing of rest any more! … [It] left me no moment alone’, similarly the name ‘David’ doesn’t leave Brandon and Phillip alone which reinforces the horror of the sublime; still we hate the the murder haunts them, and hope the night is a success (353). The sublime helps makes these narrators compelling even if what they do can be considered highly immoral.
6/11/2018 08:13:42 pm
In the movie ROPE directed by Alfred Hitchcock, David, the victim, was only shown in a tiny scene during the beginning yet he was the most talked about character in the film. In “the Tell-tale heart” written by Edgar Allan Poe, the old man and his intriguing eye was murdered in cold blood by the narrator. Both victims of murder, although they didn’t have a say or a line in both masterpieces, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they were both the masterminds of the story, the ones who had the most power, most control despite their absences. In “The Imp of the Perverse”, it is mentioned: “It is inconceivable how rich a sentiment of satisfaction arose in my bosom as I reflected upon my absolute security” (Poe 405). Brandon and the narrator believed that after the crime, they would’ve felt more at ease, but that wasn’t the case for both characters. In ROPE, even if Brandon and Philip held the dinner party, it was David that occupied the thoughts and actions of their guests. Their guests would constantly ask about David’s whereabouts or had left the party earlier to go looking for him. And in result, this made Brandon and Philip more and more worried about being exposed of their murder. In “the Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator was always disturbed by the haunting eye of the old man. Thinking that this would help tame his worries and anxieties, he kills the old man in his sleep but little did he know, in the aftermath, the “beating heart of the old man” that he always heard in the back of his head was clouding his thoughts and emotions more gradually, leaving him to confessing to his own crime. The murderers in both stories thought that they performed the perfect crime, that their brilliancy should be acknowledged and that getting caught wouldn’t have been a possibility. But for both the old man and David, even if they weren’t the protagonists, they orchestrated the story without the “real protagonists” even noticing. It’s crazy to see how much the absence of someone (in this case David and the old man), someone who they’ve repressed and believed that they would be completely gone from their lives had such a big influence on the thoughts and doings of Brandon, Philip and the narrator.
13/11/2018 08:56:43 am
A quick note here to be careful about word choice. To call the victims "masterminds" suggests they have an active role in a large plan or conspiracy. Neither character does. Instead, you seem to want to suggest that these characters hold a passive (the ultimate passive) power over the more "active" protagonist-killers in the works.
Lyna Ikram Bayou
6/11/2018 08:18:17 pm
I believe that Cato brings up a very interesting point by mentioning how the old man’s eye in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is “representing the critical side of society”. I’d like to take this point further and say that not only does it represent society’s norms, but it is also a sign of abjection for the narrator. The man—his neighbor—is old and although the narrator is fond of him and sees him as fatherly and kind, the evil Eye—the evil “I”—is a physical reminder of something the narrator doesn’t want to be. The way the eye is always watching and observing him makes him uncomfortable because it causes a certain self-reflection that brings the narrator to question and doubt himself; the eye clearly makes him uncomfortable and guilty since “whenever it fell upon me, [his] blood ran cold” (Poe 317). It was enough to make him want to get rid of the old man altogether.
Hannah Di Francesco
6/11/2018 08:31:05 pm
The way the murderers express themselves over the course of the story is very important. In the TELL-TALE HEART, the narrator goes from a very confident speech to the police officers: “while I answered cheerily” (p.320) and then becomes more and more panicky and nervous as he starts being guilty of what he did and hears the beating of the heart, like Vanessa said in her response. In ROPE, Phillip and Brandon both show the different ways the narrator of the TELL-TALE HEART talked. During the whole evening, Brandon is confident, even in the end when Rupert is condemning his behaviour, on the other hand, Phillip is nervous and panicky about everything he sees that could link to the murder. The reason for these behaviours is David, Phillip would have acted very differently if he was not in the chest. He was more nervous about people discovering what he did than guilty about the crime since he executed it without a second thought. David represents the chance that the murder will not be perfect, because he is still in the room, there is a chance that he will be discovered. This makes both characters react in different ways, for Brandon this makes him excited and confident that he can get as close as possible to this discovery without anyone really noticing and Brandon is scared that someone will find out. The narrator lives both of these emotions during the story and it is also because of the body, this idea that everything could be uncovered. At the end of ROPE, Brandon also has an important discussion with Rupert where his confidence falters a little, but he is still ready to have Rupert look into the chest and later have a drink nonchalantly while waiting for the police. He notices that his teacher is not on board with his reasoning and talks like it is described in THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE: “The speaker, in such case, is aware that he displeases; he has every intention to please” (p.403). Although Rupert doesn’t really agree with Brandon, the latter still wants to please him and tries to explain his motivation in the same way that Rupert had explained it to him in his school days. The body, David, in this story becomes the motivator to the characters to act and talk a certain way, based on the way they feel about the possibility of their murder being uncovered.
6/11/2018 08:48:35 pm
I agree with what Cato said about how David in ROPE and the old man in “A Tell-Tale Heart”, after having been murdered by the protagonists who all share a hatred to their victims, suddenly grow even more of a burden to their murderers and are worse dead than they are alive. As soon as they are killed they become a symbolic definition of guilt and remorse to the narrator and Phillip, who were the true murderers of the crimes. David can be compared to the old man, they’re both hidden in the centre of the action, which to the protagonists was the best plan they could ever come up with so that they can prove that they have nothing to hide, but then the fact that the bodies are literally a few feet away from everyone becomes an instant regret which makes them start to worry and eventually breaking and confessing the horrible deed. But both stories were not in fact about the murder itself but about the performance of it and then the dangling of their “talent” of murder in front of people. For example how Brandon swings the rope as if it wasn’t just used to strangle someone to death and then uses it to tie the books together, and not to mention his perfectly executed plan of having his guests eat over the body. This very much compares to what the narrator does in “A Tell-Tale Heart” of having “the wild audacity”, as he puts it, of placing his chair in the exact spot where laid the dead body of the old man. As David’s name continues to be brought up left and right at the party, Philip grows more and more guilty, hence why he probably continues to play the piano, almost as a way to block out the taunting of what he’s done, and like the narrator does as well, as the sound of the beating of the old man’s heart increases over time, he talks louder and louder and ends up yelling to defeat the noises of his guilt.
6/11/2018 09:02:43 pm
In Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE and in Edgard Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the victims represent the murderers’ insecurities. In the movie, Phillip is obviously a weak character and Brandon who seems confident and self-assured is very vulnerable as well. Even though he goes on a rant about how superior humans like Phillip and himself have the right to kill inferior people, it’s clear he doesn’t even believe in his superiority since he always turns to Rupert, someone he truly sees as superior, for validation on everything he says and does. On a similar note, the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” also goes on a rant about how sane he is because he absolutely wants to repress his insecurity about his mental problem. There, we get insights about the protagonists’ inner conflicts because people who brag a lot about their qualities to others often think the opposite of what they’re saying and are only trying to convince themselves. That’s why Brandon uses murder without being caught and the killing of someone he deems as inferior, someone like David, as a way of finding out if he is superior or not. To do that, he purposely invites Rupert to the party, as the person who’ll give him the answer, as his judge. We clearly see this when he asks Rupert “[…] suppose you were I. How would you get David out of the way?” in order to make him describe what he sees as the perfect murder to get an idea of how someone as genius as him would proceed (ROPE). If their process is similar, then Brandon will have Rupert’s validation of his superiority. However, just like the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, Brandon does not wish to be caught. To him, that would mean he doesn’t have the ability to think or act above the ones he sees as insane or unintelligent, which would confirm his inferiority, his insecurity.
6/11/2018 09:14:28 pm
Both the narrator of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Brandon in Hitchcock’s ROPE flaunt their crimes. For Brandon, the murder of David is a work of art, and he wishes to exhibit it. He claims that he killed his victim because he was superior to David, even though that isn’t a declaration he has the authority to make. Brandon even tries to convince Rupert to side with him once he is found out, truly believing that his crime is something to be admired, or something that is justifiable. The desire to show off his art to everyone around him (ie the party guests) is his demise—he all but outright tells them that his homicide victim lies but a few feet away from them. Brandon’s need to be admired for his work is what ultimately leads to him being caught, and this need is so strong because to him, his crime is beautiful. The narrator of Poe’s story shares a similar feeling. By inviting the detectives to sit on chairs placed right on the floorboards under which the old man’s corpse lies, he is trying to show off his crime because he is proud of it. Brandon and the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” show pride in their work, because their work is artistic and something to be desired. Both David and the old man are things that their murderers are proud of and wish to exhibit. Their perverse wanting to be caught is exhibited in the way they deal with their victims.
6/11/2018 09:15:56 pm
In “The Imp of the Perverse” Poe states “Perverseness… Through its promptings we act without comprehensible object” (403). This sheds light on how the characters Phillip and the narrator in the pieces Rope and “A Tell-Tale Heart” (respectively) both committed murders without a clearly stated reason. Poe makes it clear that in gothic tradition, often times, actions like these are executed “merely because we feel that we should not” (405). That being said, it does however seem that both murderers did have some ulterior motive or reason to kill their victims. It can be argued that the victims in both cases represented something within the culprits that they were trying to repress or expel. In “A Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator repeatedly speaks about how he murdered his victim because of his ‘eye’, that it was “the eye of a vulture… Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold” (317). The extreme emphasis he puts on the ‘eye’ leads one to believe that the ‘eye’ could be interpreted as a symbol for ‘I’ as in himself. This would mean that the old man represented something within the narrator that he was reminded of when he saw the eye of the old man. Similarly, in ROPE, David could be seen as an aspect of Phillip that Phillip himself was trying to banish from his life in murdering David. What is rather peculiar and poses as a point of reflection is how in both cases, the murderers had a sense of attachment to their victims. In “A Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator says “I loved the old man, he had never wronged me” and in Rope, David was one of Philips oldest friends. Contrary to what Cato said, I feel as though the victims had just as much of an effect on their murderers when they were dead as they did when they were alive because they represented something within the murderers that was unable of being repressed. In both pieces, the murderers are exposed and someone finds out what they have done. This could be interpreted as them failing to finally and permanently repress that aspect of themselves.
6/11/2018 10:04:25 pm
The statement I made above about the ‘eye’ being a symbol for ‘I’ as in the narrator himself was taken from the class discussion.
6/11/2018 09:18:27 pm
Both protagonists in Poe’s “The tell-tale heart” and Hitchcock’s ROPE are extremely meticulous in their organization of the murder. That being said, their strong desire for perfection leads us to think that the old man in “The tell-tale heart” and David in ROPE symbolise the destructive obsession the protagonists have for their victim. Poe’s narrator explains in detail his careful procedure for the murder of the old man. He states, for example, that he took 8 nights of cautious preparation before deciding to commit the crime. We also realise he took 4 hours to place the victim’s body under the wooden planks and fix everything back “so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye—not even his—could have detected any thing wrong” (Poe 320). In ROPE, Brandon and Phillip also commit the perfect murder. In fact, Brandon enjoys very much the fact that they committed the perfect murder. Therefore, Brandon’s obsession for the perfect murder is very similar to the narrator’s in “The tell-tale heart”. Furthermore, in “The Imp Of The Perverse” we can also sense the obsession through the desire of a perfect murder when the narrator says: “For weeks—for months—I pondered upon the means of the murder”(Poe 405).
6/11/2018 09:29:16 pm
In both ROPE and “The Tell-Tale Heart”, it is true that both murders were committed for the sake of doing something that isn’t supposed to be done which returns to the idea of the perverse as Julia and Vanessa previously stated. However, I believe that “David” is a symbolic entity that drives the actors of the crime Brandon and Phillips towards a perverse self-destruction. In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the old man holds a similar symbol of self-destruction caused by the perverse act of killing.
6/11/2018 09:36:22 pm
Throughout both Rope and A Tell-Tale Heart we as readers and an audience learn about the struggles and wishes of the narrator, Philip and Brandon. We quickly realize that all three of these characters are either scared of the old man or belief that David is inferior and believe that he is useless to the world. What we may not realize is that the narrator, Philip and Brandon all have a lust for power and are adamant on getting it. Throughout the film, the audience is witness to the power that Brandon as well as Philip hold, Brandon is playing with the minds of his guests and in a way so is Philip as they constantly question David’s whereabouts and question their guests. Although, what matters is the power that they receive from killing David, as he is a symbol for power. David could symbolize power because power is only received after he is killed, from the descriptions of David, we learn that he would have been influential in many ways than one and that such power and influence was lusted after by Brandon and Philip. This lust for power leads to both the murder and the gain of power and influence as it seems that Brandon becomes the leader of the group. This lust for power can also be seen throughout Edgar Allan Poe’s A Tell-Tale Heart within the narrator. The narrator in the short story kills an old man who is his neighbor but also someone whom he claims to love. Although it is not directly said, the old man and his “eye of a vulture” (Poe 317) hold an extreme amount of power and influence over the narrator in which the narrator is a slave to. The narrator helps, cares for and socialises with the old and lonely man but does not know why and wishes he had the power to know such. The narrator becomes fearful over the old man’s influence as well as the power he holds and begins to lust over such and decides that if he wants the power of the old man he must take it by force. By killing the old man he feels powerful and most importantly he has regained power over his life and his being.
6/11/2018 09:39:15 pm
Like Victoria said, the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” killed the old man, because he is afraid of the eye, or the “I”. Some of my classmates also stated that in Alfred Hitchcock's ROPE, Brandon and Philip felt superior to David, which led them to murder him. They had issues with themselves that they couldn't overcome. David had done nothing wrong but making them feel superior, which isn't much his intention, even less, his fault. In the “Black Cat”, we read that the narrator murders because of his uncontrollable anger. In this short story, the narrator: “deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket” (Poe 250). He couldn't control his own anger and cut Pluto's eye. After cutting his eye, the empty socket became a burden to him and pushed him to hang his cat. Later, he got another cat which also had a missing eye. This, again, bothered him and led him to kill his wife. In all three of the stories, eyes and the “I” lead the characters to murder. The eye in question is most likely an “I” in these stories. The victims haven't done anything to anger the murderers. The murderers are only conflicted with their own selves. The old man couldn't even see, he was blind. The narrator simply couldn't bear seeing his “pale blue eye”: “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold” (Poe 317). Brandon and Philip are addicted to the idea that they are better than David, even though he hasn't wronged them a bit. They think he deserves to die, so that they will never see the tables turn, never see David prosper and overtake them. In Poe's “Black Cat”, the narrator is frustrated by the idea of Pluto's missing eye. He feels guilt every time he thinks about how he cut his favourite pet's eye out. Again, it is a conflict within himself that he cannot unsolve. He is mad about something that himself has done. All three stories talk about perversion, because the characters put their feelings, like anger of fear, on someone else by killing them. They make this person an idea and kills the idea thinking they've gotten away with their problems.
6/11/2018 09:49:44 pm
I find Ameera’s response to “David” to be quite compelling and I’d like to push it even further. She mentions that ROPE’s victim, David, “is nothing more than a placeholder” in the sense that the body is simply a representation of the murderers’ “desire to wait” but I’d expand on that to say that “David” is like a countdown within himself. Each time his name is mentioned the guests get one step closer to uncovering the protagonists’ truth and Rupert is the last straw, he is the final tick of the clock, that then gives way to the alarm, or for a more concrete notion: the confession. Brandon decided to hide the body in plain site and never really shied away from the topic of his friend’s seemingly baffling tardiness to the party because he desired to be found out for his crime; he wanted to be praised for his actions. Brandon put on a show to display how confident he was in his ‘perfect murder’; much like the narrator in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” who invited the officers into the very bedroom where the dead body had been dismembered. The sound of the heartbeat in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a clear liaison to the clock as well, counting down the seconds until the truth comes out. The narrator repeatedly questions “for what had I to fear?” thus showing that he truly believes he’s off the hook for his murder (like Brandon) but in the end, it is his own slip of the tongue that leads to his conviction (Poe 320). The incessant heartbeat heard by the narrator in the short story and David’s name in the film are both symbolic of a clock, the countdown to when the truth resurfaces; which finally condemns the protagonists in their sinful ways. This, in turn, shows that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect murder’ and that the characters’ over-confidence was nothing but a demonstration of their desire to be found. The countdown led to the termination of their “desire to wait,” as Ameera had previously mentioned.
Wendy Lopez Ponce
6/11/2018 09:50:31 pm
In both stories, Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the victims, David and the old man, are a representation of the murderers’ desire for intellectual superiority. For instance, in ROPE, killing David is a way for Brandon to prove that no mind like his could get away with such a perfectly staged murder and aftermath because he considers himself superior, or at least he wishes he was. David is considered an inferior being therefore in killing him, Brandon shows that only men of high intellect as him, Phillip and perhaps Rupert can have power. To push his desire to prove his intellectual superiority, he goes to the point of discussing the very subject of murder and why only the few privileged superior beings can commit it, while in presence of his guest whom are close to David. Although he sees himself as superior, he wishes to challenge it, to perhaps reassure himself, by including the only person that could defy his masterpiece and intellect if discovered, David. As for Poe’s narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, he wishes to prove he’s a mastermind by denying the title of madmen through the murdering of the old man. The old man is a way for him to demonstrate to the readers that if he was truly mad, he wouldn’t have been able to plan and commit such a perfect murder. When the narrator was visited by the officers, he encouraged them to well investigate the place for he is sure no one as smart as him can find a flaw in his masterplan. “I bade them search—search well” (Poe 319). This passage shows his arrogance to challenge the officer’s inferior intellect.
13/11/2018 09:15:30 am
This was a good start. You needed only to follow through on how Poe's narrator saw himself as intellectually superior. The parallels needed to be drawn more clearly, and followed through.
6/11/2018 10:22:05 pm
When we compare Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and ROPE, we observe many interesting dynamics between the main characters and the murder victims. They seem to idolize them and hate them at the same time. Furthermore, they find that way of thinking perfectly reasonable and justified, even though their only reason for hating them is, in Poe, the old man’s eye and in ROPE, the fact that the Davids of the world are “inferior beings” who “merely occupy space”. They are idolized in that whenever they are described, it is to say how much of good people they are, and how much they were loved by those around them, especially those who murdered them. This brings attention to the perverse element of the murder, which may seem redundant, but their murders are even more perverse because they love their victims. As Poe writes about perversion in “The Imp of the Perverse”, “we persist in acts because we feel that we should NOT persist in them” (403). Therefore, because there is nothing fundamental that Brandon and Phillip have against David, and nothing fundamental about the old man’s personality that the narrator is against, they are all the more inclined to want to murder them.
6/11/2018 10:37:16 pm
6/11/2018 10:51:05 pm
In both the movie ROPE and Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” the main characters try to repress something in this case that is not in them but something they don’t want to be. In Poe’s story the old men’s eyes is something that the narrator doesn’t want to become so his way of dissociating with it is by getting rid of the whole thing, in other words, the old men because the old men is the eye and the eye is the old men. So, the narrator was disturbed by the old men eye himself and not the actual old men because he says, “it was not the old man who vexed, but his Evil Eye.” (317) meaning that the narrator wanted to get rid of an image he saw in the old men’s eyes because he feared that reflection. Just like Philip and Brandon killed David not because they hated him but because he was the representation of the social norm of that time that they don’t conform to. Also, in both stories we could feel that the narrators think they committed the perfect murder and they are so proud of their skills that they want to put it on display for the viewer to enjoy the quality of the content, just like a brilliant mise en scène. This shows the perversion of the characters because in both stories they committed a cold-blooded murder without feeling any sense of guilt or regret about it, on the contrary they are proud of theirs “extraordinary skills” and they want show them off by, in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, inviting the police into the house and making them sit in the room where the corpse was hidden and in ROPE by inviting David’s friends and family to a party. Brandon is looking forward to Rupert arrival because in a conversation Philip told him that Rupert is probably the one that will be able to find out about the murder and Brandon answered that his presence would just makes it better. That means that he wants his work to be appreciated by a “fine connoisseur”, in this case Rupert represents the police in Poe’s story.
6/11/2018 11:00:11 pm
In ROPE, David is not only Philip and Brandon’s victim, but also a big presence in the movie. He is mentioned in most conversations and all the guests are worrying where he is. By inviting David’s entourage and making a “funeral” for their late friend, the murderers see how David is important for those around him. He is like the beating of the heart in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, his relatives keep him alive in their conversations. When Rupert says that David “could live and love as [they] never could”, he also means that David could live through others and be loved as they never could. It shows Philip and Brandon that even if they kill someone they think inferior, they can’t erase his existence from the memory of those who loved their victim. As the old man’s eye mirrors the narrator fear of death in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, David mirrors the killers’ fear of not being loved. Phillip asks Brandon how he felt during the murder, a scene full of sexual connotations, he wants Brandon to comfort him. But, Phillip also asks Brandon, after the dreadful party is over, if he “ever bothered for one minute to understand how someone else might feel”. He wants Brandon to care about him. On Brandon’s side, he is always charming his companion, after the murder, he asks Philip: “You're not frightened still, are you? […] Not even of me?”. He desires Philip to like him. They are both scared of not being loved.
6/11/2018 11:04:35 pm
I didn't understand we needed 'The Tell-Tale Heart'... Sorry...
Maria Fatima Agustin
6/11/2018 11:30:08 pm
Many of my classmates have discussed about how Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” and Hitchcock’s ROPE introduce characters who represent different sides of society. I would like to explore that category furthermore by considering the point that the murdered men in both narratives (David and the old man with The Eye), like all of us individuals, are victims of society’s fault-finding ways. In the film, David was described as an organized and intelligent young man who seemed to be good to his friends and family. Similarly to David’s description, the old man in Poe’s tale was described as a loving and kind individual who owned a lot of money for the narrator mentions: “For his gold I had no desire.” (Poe, 317). Even if they were portrayed as the “perfect” human beings, there were still characters who found and pinpointed their minor faults: the murderers (Philip and Brandon in the ROPE, and the narrator in “Tell-Tale Heart”). In fact, David’s flaw was his “inferiority” to Brandon and Philip. Ever since they were young, David was seen as the better one among their group of friends. This lead Brandon and Philip to feel jealousy. As for the old man, the imperfection in question was his “eye of a vulture” (Poe, 317). It made the narrator shiver in terror. The murderers criticized and paid a lot of attention to these flaws to the point where they were so bothered and used these poor men’s “imperfections” as their motive to kill them.
13/11/2018 09:21:32 am
I like your angle here. The follow-through or "Why is this important?" question is still a bit foggy here, but the setup and topic are worth exploring further.
6/11/2018 11:46:24 pm
As many of my peers have stated, the murders committed in both Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” had no legitimate motive behind them. It seems that both murders happened just for the sake of killing. In both stories, the victims themselves aren’t very important, it is more the idea of the victims that plays a role in the storyline. Both stories revolve around the killer(s) and how they are reacting to the events unfolding after the murder. In both situations, the discovery of the murder happens due to the instability of the murderer. There are two main psychological aspects observable in the characters. The overconfidence and self-diagnosed superiority; and the unstable and regretful aspects. In ROPE, these aspects are split into two characters, but in “The Tell-Tale Heart” the main character has both traits. In the end of both stories, the murderer—or one of the murderers—denounced themselves due to the incapacity to deal with their feelings of guilt. In the end, regardless of how much the overconfident part of the killer(s) tries to emphasize the perfection of the crime, the guilt takes over and causes the killer’s downfall. Essentially, in both cases, the victim is just used as a way to bring the killer’s psychological conflicts to light.
Chris Morgan Arseneau
7/11/2018 12:14:06 am
Upon reading several responses written by my peers, I’ve discerned that a comparison of Hitchcock’s ROPE to Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” helps reveal the treatment of abjection in both works. For instance, the old man in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is, in a sense, an embodiment of the uncanny. The narrator of the text views him and especially his “Evil Eye” as strangely unsettling. (Poe 317). The narrator mentions how he loves the old man, but does not specify his relation to him. He does mention how he has no interest in the old man’s possessions and also indicates that he doesn’t actually wish to kill him, but rather kill his eye which gravely unsettles him. I venture that perhaps what truly unsettles him is not the old man’s eye, but his embodiment of the abject. When the old man wakes up one night while the narrator intrudes his room, the narrator notes, “Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or grief—oh, no!—it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well.” (Poe 318). Here, the narrator makes a clear identification with the old man. By doing so, he reveals his own terror of mortality. The old man’s aging body is what’s abject about him and his aging serves as a reminder that to both the narrator and to us that human beings are not immortal. By comparing Poe’s story to Hitchcock’s film, David or “David” can be perceived as holding a similar symbolic role as the old man does in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” At the beginning of the film, David is killed by Phillip with the help of Brandon and then placed in a chest on top of which food is displayed during a party. The subtle display of David’s corpse in the room during the party seems to haunt Phillip more than it does Brandon. I attribute Phillip’s different response to the subtle display of the body to his treatment of abjection. David’s uncanny corpse traumatically reminds Phillip of his own materiality. A comparison of both the old man in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and David or “David” in ROPE highlights how characters such as the narrator in Poe’s story or Phillip in Hitchcock’s film can observe uncanniness outside of themselves, but often struggle to a acknowledge that the uncanny is very much and very deeply a part of them. They are able to recognize it in others because it is present in themselves.
7/11/2018 12:21:19 am
In Hitchcock’s ROPE and Poe’s “A Tell-Tale Heart”, David and the old man both represent a vessel not just prove mental superiority but also to attain validation from an outside source. In ROPE, there is no real reason why Brandon and Phillip chose David over anyone else. David was simply used to show that they could actually pull off the perfect murder. The only reason why Brandon wanted to plan out a perfect murder is to showcase it to the people who had the best chance of knowing what he did. In a way, he was longing for someone to come up to him and congratulate him on his seamless plan. In “A Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator actually has a reason behind killing the old man. The narrator seems to be motivated by the old man’s eye to take the old man’s life. He then uses this to craft the perfect crime and have the self control to carry it out perfectly. The narrator doesn’t actively gather people who will recognize his perfect act but he knows that eventually the police will show up and he’ll have a chance to “showcase” his perfectly carried out murder. Both of these stories have characters that desperately need some sort of approval. This can be an explanation to why they chose to carry out the perfect murder and not anything else that can be praiseworthy if performed perfectly. By comparing these two works and asking why the act needed to be murder, our only explanation is that of self destructiveness.
7/11/2018 06:42:03 am
As we discussed in class, and as Victoria and others have mentioned before me, the old man in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” could be seen as a reflection of the narrator himself. The narrator even goes so far as to compare himself to him; when he hears the old man’s grown of “mortal terror”, he states that he knows the sound, saying “Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom” (Poe 318). This illustrates the common gothic trope of doubling, implying that, in every instance of the narrator committing an act of violence upon the old man, it was meant as an attack upon himself.
13/11/2018 09:27:55 am
These posts were a significant improvement over all the previous posts. Attention to detail and specific examples is much more apparent here, so congrats!
Leave a Reply.
Please respond in the Comments section. To see this section, just click the red "comments" line). To create a new response, use the "Leave a Reply" box.