B. Sumey, Instructor
Comp. II, TTH 3:00
18 Feb. 2012
In the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator is very insane and mentally ill. He is a murderer, does not sleep much, is very paranoid, and is unable to distinguish what is real and unreal.
It is clear that Poe wants to create a character who is mad. First off, the narrator kills the old man. By doing so, he is considered a murderer. The death occurs “in an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him” (44). He is obviously not in his right mind to murder someone in such a manner. The narrator even claims to enjoy the event of murdering the old man.
The narrator is crazy ...view middle of the document...
The character sounds like he is hysterical. In the very beginning of the short story, this is evident by his saying, “True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous. . .” (42). The protagonist states that he can hear things that other people cannot hear. He thinks that being able to hear things others can’t is a good sign. The narrator perceives the eye as birdlike. “One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture – a pale blue eye, with a film over it” (42). He also envisions the old man’s eye as something that is life-threatening. “. . . I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (42).
Insanity gets the best of the narrator. A neighbor calls the police officers because they hear a shriek in the middle of the night. The narrator knows that he should not be afraid of getting caught since he hides the body so well: “My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease” (45). A problem soon arises, or at least that is what he thinks. The character “hears” the constant beating of the old man’s heart underneath the planks, convincing himself that the officers hear it as well: “. . . disassemble no more! I admit the deed! – tear up the planks! – here, here! – it is the beating of his hideous heart!” (46). Unfortunately, the narrator cannot bear the guilt anymore and decides that giving in is the best thing he can do. This is why with integrity, one has nothing to fear since one has nothing to hide.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Backpack Literature. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.
4th ed. New York: Pearson, 2012. 41-46. Print.