Characterism In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

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Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the story of the narrator and his decision and act to kill an old man with whom he lived. The narrator and the old man are never named throughout the story, neither are any supporting character such as the neighbors or the policemen. This aspect of the story gives the characters anonymity and takes the reader into the story, even calling them out at various points throughout. The narrator in this story is not given a history or even a description. His actions and thoughts through the story, lead the reader to believe that he is partially, if not wholly, insane. The recurring elements that lead to this conclusion are the narrator’s overwhelming paranoia, his fixation with the old man’s eye, and his…show more content…
Of course the plan to kill another person is an abnormal thing that people of a sane mind would probably never do. The narrator describes how slowly and carefully he executes parts of his plan. On one of the nights that he spent spying on the old man, he states, "It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening…” which is an eerie amount of time to spend simply moving your head towards an open door. A characteristic of the narrator’s plan that adds to the darker elements is the confidence and sense of achievement that he gets throughout the deed. All throughout his description of the act he describes himself as a wise man, mentioning his keen senses and feeling his powers (1187). After his successful suffocation of the old man, the narrator describes how he dismembered the corpse, in the bathtub to prevent stains, and hid the body parts underneath the floorboards. While describing this act, the narrator states, “I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly…” (1189). The narrator has so much confidence in this wise plan that believes no one could ever know he did it. Once again this characteristic goes against what a “normal” person would feel. His confidence also shines through when the police come knocking on the door. The narrator says, “I went down to open it with a light heart, - for what had I now to fear” which he repeats again while talking to the…show more content…
The exact disease that he refers to is never named, nor does he ever expose his name to the reader. This anonymity adds a slight element of confusion to the reader, as we never know if this is a man or woman. There are a few disorder that the narrator shows characteristics of, schizophrenia for example, but there is no concrete evidence that proves he suffers from that disorder. The only thing that is certain about the narrator, is that he is certainly not
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