Analysis of the Narrator in The Tell Tale Heart

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Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Tell Tale Heart” depicts a narrator who observes a man and kills him. The narrator dismembers the old man after killing him and decides to hide it under the floorboards; he has no motive except for his pale blue eye. Police soon arrive and the narrator takes them on a tour of the house to prove that he is innocent. The narrator decides to take the policemen to where he kills the old man, in order to make it look like there was no harm done. The police men do not suspect anything, but the narrator then hears the man’s heartbeat and confesses. In the story, the reader slowly learns that the narrator is insane through his thoughts and his speech. The reader then wonders if he has some type of illness. This illness is called moral insanity which was discovered in the 19th century. Today it is known as schizophrenia, but moral insanity is a simpler version of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a fragmented condition in which sufferers’ words are split from meaning, actions from motives, perceptions from reality; it is a mental illness that can be elusive, complex and different in form (Wade 584). Moral insanity is a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the intellect or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucination. . .The individual is found to be incapable, not of talking or reasoning upon any subject proposed to him, for this he will often do with great shrewdness and volubility, but of conducting himself with decency and propriety in the business of life (Noll 213 ). In the beginning of the story, we learn that the... ... middle of paper ... ...: Facts on File, 1992. Print. Orazin, Lucy. “Moral Insanity: A Brief History” Psychiatric News. Silverchair, 18 May 2001. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Tell Tale Heart.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. 1128-1131. Print. Ray, Isaac. A treatise on the medical jurisprudence of insanity. Boston: Little, Brown, 1853. Print. Shen, Dan. "Edgar Allan Poe's Aesthetic Theory, The Insanity Debate, And The Ethically Oriented Dynamics Of “The Tell-Tale Heart”." Nineteenth-Century Literature 63: 321-345. Print. Tucker, B. D. "The Tell-Tale Heart" and the" Evil Eye." The Southern Literary Journal (1981): 92-98. Print. Wade, Carole, and Carol Tavris. "Psychological Disorders." Psychology, Tenth Edition [by]Carole Wade [and] Carol Tavris. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011. 584-85. Print.
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