Edgar Allan Poe 's The Tell Tale Heart Essay

Edgar Allan Poe 's The Tell Tale Heart Essay

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Thematic Essay

Edgar Allan Poe uses the insanity of his narrator to create an unsettled feeling in the reader. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator has the readers on their toes. Humans have a tendency to not see the truth about their conditions, even when they are talking in detail about them. This is seen in "The Tell-Tale Heart" when the narrator starts by telling the reader "[t]he disease had sharpened [his] senses . . . not dulled them,"(1). The use of fear, the concept of sanity, and the dedication to detail the narrator, all provide insight about a world that some people might wish to do without.

The "The Tell-Tale Heart" is nerve-wracking. The narrator is planning the death of an old man who possesses "the eye of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it"(1). This eye causes the narrator much discomfort when he goes to see the old man and its gaze falls upon him. Every night at midnight, during the week leading up to the old man 's death, he is very cautious with the door as well as the lantern for fear that should the old man awake; he will be found out and thus no longer have his chance to remove the threat of the eye. The heart the narrator claims to hear before he ends the old man 's life might be the sound of his own heart, and he is just hyperaware of it because of his anxiety. He believes the sound is from the old man 's heart, though, since he is so disconnected from his emotions. While planning the death of the old man, he is very nice to him, showing up every morning to ask how the old man 's night went. Examining this, a reader can see that the narrator fears being caught to the point that he has decided to be overly nice, which will give him away just as much as being sullen and moping. The o...


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...shes to rid himself of the anxiety caused by an old man 's eye. His attention to detail helps him when he is hiding the body, but when the police come, he falls apart. Claiming that he is sane at every corner the reader turns, the narrator finds out fear is an overwhelming force which causes him to give himself away. The presence of fear, attention to detail, and state of sanity that combine to create the theme of "The Tell-Tale Heart" are seen in the narrator and shown to the reader in a way that, even though the narrator is insane, the reader understands him when he expresses his fear of the old man 's eye. The reader also feels the anxiety of being caught when the police come. With the theme the human condition allows them to see only what they want to see and nothing more, Edgar Allan Poe is able to use the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" as a shocking example.

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