“TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been, and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, like many of his works, is a dark story. Through the first person narrator, Poe uses techniques such as irony and style to pull off a believable sense of paranoia.
It is not clear on the exact setting of the story. All we know is the narrator is giving his account of the events that transpired leading to his confession of murder. The story covers approximately eight days of the narrator watching and waiting and plotting the murder, with the most important action happening each night around midnight. We do not know much about the room where the old man lied the night he was murdered and because of this, the room and the story itself seems scarier because it is something that cannot be seen. The story taps into our fears of the dark, and more importantly, what the dark may hold and as the narrator relates that “every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.” People are not afraid of the dark itself. It is what may be hiding in the shadows that is frightening.
In his opening statement, the narrator in Poe’s story tries to convince the reader that he is sane. He claims his sanity by stating his nervousness and oversensitivity and offers his calmness as proof. Yet he thinks the reader believes him to be mad. From the imagery the narrator uses, the reader can easily assume that the man is mad. Phrases such as “the disease has sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them” (Poe 29), and “Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?” contribute to the...
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At the end of the story the man ends up confessing to the officers that he murdered the old man. He confesses due to his aggressive, self-righteous concept that the police are being hypocritical because they claim not to hear the sound of the dead man’s beating heart. Furthermore, he hates the police and their refusal to speak the truth. As a result, it is not self-incrimination that leads the man to confess, but the condemnation of the dishonest police officers. He believes that his acknowledgement of his crime is morally superior to their hypocrisy. Also, this confession that the narrator writes denotes a pathological attempt to re-define himself. He relives the incident to secure his imaginative stance of victor over the evil eye. “He thinks he can see, but the loss of true judgment can only mirror the blindness of the tale bearing heart” (Wing-chi Ki).
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