It's Never Just Heart Disease...

Chapter 23

Malory Schultz

  • music lover with the band
  • Die-hard Steelers fan (I know how the season's going... don't talk about it :p)
  • basketball and tennis


This chapter is about how heart trouble is present in many novels. Literally and figuratively, the heart represents something. The heart is more than just the pump that keeps us alive. It's also the symbolic respiratory of emotion.

Heart Disease Can Be Literal

Heart Illness

There are actual heart problems that occur within books.
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - pilot of small plane dies of heart attack
  • When a character has heart problems, we usually expect some emotional trouble that triggers a cardiac episode.

Heart Disease Can Be Figurative

Metaphorical Illness

There are characters with emotionally unstable problems

  • In Hatchet, a thirteen year old boy named Brian was stranded on a Canadian island because the plane that he was flying in crashed. The depression and hopelessness that he was feeling leads him to trying to commit suicide with his hatchet, but he survives the attempt.
  • This heart of the boy at the time is diseased with depression and hopelessness.
  • This event changed him to cherish life and cured part of his "disease".

There Is a Meaning Behind Heart Disease

The Influence of Heart Disease

Books have illnesses placed in them for a reason

  • "In literature there is no better, no more lyrical, no more perfectly metaphorical illness than heart disease. In real life, heart disease is none of the above; it's frightening, sudden, shattering, exhausting, but not lyrical or metaphorical" (Foster 208).
  • This gives the story interest by giving it one of the perfect natural causes of death.
The heart provides Insight on character's personalities.

  • Heart trouble connects to a person's humanity and personality.
    • If a heart has a problem, the person's personality will reflect it.

The Heart is the Source of all Emotions

  • The heart is more than just the pump that keeps us alive. It's also the symbolic respiratory of emotion.
  • The heart is the source of all emotions.
  • Writers always use the heart because readers know what they mean.

Learning Activity- Think, Ink, Link

Get into groups of 4-5 and read The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Write down anything about the heart disease that you find. Then we will share what your groups found in class.


Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. 207-12. Print.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. N. pag. Print.

Poe, Edgar A. The Tell-Tale Heart. Boston: The Pioneer, 1843. N. pag. Web. 23 Nov. 2013. <>.

The heart is an important part of any story, whether it be emotionally ill or physically.