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Websters Collegiate Dictionary defines existentialism as a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for his acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad 407 Without question existentialism is extremely complicated and almost incomprehensible However Katharena Eiermann defines existentialism in a more understandable manner She says that existentialism has one major theme a stress of individual existence and consequently on subjectivity individual freedom and choice 1 In The Tell-Tale Heart written by Edgar Allan Poe the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for his acts of free will become dreadfully clear Poe manifests these existential philosophies in the clear illustration of the conscience anguish and ultimate absurdity of the narrator True nervousvery very dreadfully nervous I had been and am but why will you say that I am mad The disease has sharpened my sensesnot destroyednot dulled them Poe opens the story with these chilling words of the narrator who seems rational and acute of all his senseshis conscience above all else highly tuned How then am I mad says the narrator observe how healthilyhow calmly I can tell you the whole story It is wildly evident by the chilling introduction that our narrator although very in tune with his senses is trying to convince himself of his sanity But alas From the very first sentence his madness is apparent through his desperate insistence upon his sanity Lanzen-Harris 310 But to the madman sanity is relative after all sanity is a conscious state of mind whereas insanity is to all intents and purposes a condition of the unconsciousness Lanzen-Harris 310 The narrator continues to explain his mind and method but still maintaining his sanity It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain but once conceived
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