“The Tell Tale Heart” is a story containing a conflict within the narrator. There is a mental conflict within the narrator himself who seems to be in a mentally unstable state. Through obvious clues and proclamations, Poe informs the reader to the mental state of the narrator, which is insanity. The insanity is described as an obsession with the old man’s eye, which eventually causes him to resort to violence. Even though he appears to be insane, and supposedly has freedom from guilt, his feeling of guilt over the murder is too crushing to tolerate.
Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" is a short story about how a murderer's conscience overtakes him and whether the narrator is insane or if he suffers from over acuteness of the senses. Poe suggests the narrator is insane by the narrator's claims of sanity, the narrator's actions bring out the narrative irony of the story, and the narrator is insane according to the definition of insanity as it applies to "The Tell Tale Heart". First, Poe suggests the narrator is insane by his assertions of sanity. For example, the narrator declares because he planned the murder so expertly he could not be insane. He says, "Now this is the point.
The story represents the insight world of a mad man. Although he claims to be completely sound while killing a person, the reasons of him doing so, and the way he chose to do it clearly state his mental instability. Old man’s evil eye is more of a symbol of the narrator’s madness, and it is represented through his unreasonable desire to get rid of a person he says he loves. The narrator needs to destroy the eye, not the person, because otherwise this eye will destroy him. The eye is a symbolic representation of the narrator’s madness.
Through the use of irony, symbolism, and imagery in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Poe illustrates a theme of destruction that guilt and madness can do to the human mind. In the beginning of the story, the irony present can be obviously seen. The young man is constantly reminding the reader that he is sane, saying, “You fancy me mad… You should have seen how wisely I was proceeding” (Poe p. 619). This is ironic, because his insanity is clearly present due to the fact that his only reason for wanting to kill the old man is the way the man’s eye stares at the narrator in the dark. His paranoia from the way the old man’s eye looks at him has started to drive him insane, causing him to have dark thoughts of murdering him.
Shaffer ends off leaving us with our mouths wide open, craving more of the story like bees after honey, more of the tale told by the insane old man. This story of the insane from the eyes of the insane also makes it seem as if the norm is insanity and we are all but puppets with our strings being dangled for us by normality. “But positioning such an alternative is false. One need not be ‘crazed’ to live untrammeled by conventional proscriptions. Most of the insane are in every way for more wretched and pitiful than the average man in his quiet despair of humdrum gloom” (Clurman 388).
The narrator started the story by protesting his sanity, but in the end, it is evident that, he is truly insane through his actions. Only an insane person could do what the narrator did, killing an innocent man and even mutilating his body. Edgar Allan Poe uses the narrator to display the theme of insanity in his book, The Tell Tale Heart. Works Cited Poe, Edgar Allan. The Tell-Tale Heart.
The story is told through first person allow us see the a deeper insight into the working of the narrator’s mind, allow us to see the madness that pervades the narrator. Poe provides the context that suggest clearly that the narrator is in fact insane. In the beginning the narrator insist that, “TRUE! — NERVOUS — VERY, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”. (1) The beginning itself, indicates he is crazy due to the need of verifying his own sanity, and tries to convince us of his mental stability.
Critical Analysis of Poe's The Tell Tale Heart The Tell Tale Heart is a story, on the most basic level, of conflict. There is a mental conflict within the narrator himself (assuming the narrator is male). Through obvious clues and statements, Poe alerts the reader to the mental state of the narrator, which is insanity. The insanity is described as an obsession (with the old man's eye), which in turn leads to loss of control and eventually results in violence. Ultimately, the narrator tells his story of killing his housemate.
Poe has given his narrator in “The Tell Tale Heart” multiple currently diagnosable psychological disorders: bipolarity, obsessive compulsive disorder, psychopathy, paranoia. Although he is a psychopath by Hare’s definition, among the disorders, the narrator’s sense of fear is overwhelmingly the most motivating. On a first reading, it might seem that the narrator committed murder because of his unjustified hatred towards the victim, or more specifically, the victim’s “evil eye.” And later, he confesses to his crime because of the overwhelming guilt he feels which causes him to hear the beating of the dead man’s heart. However, as a psychopath, the narrator is incapable of feeling guilt. I will demonstrate that it is not hatred toward what is outside of the self that drove the narrator to murder and confession but the hatred and the immense fear of the insane side of himself that drove him to such irrational actions.
The Evil “I”: Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart What could possibly motivate someone to kill an innocent old man in his sleep? Edgar Allan Poe proposes an answer to that question in the short story entitled “The Tell-Tale Heart”, where an insane narrator, who is convinced to be perfectly rational, murders an old man because of the unrest he feels at the sight of his vulture-like eye. Although the narrator views the eye as an evil presence, he fails to see that the eye symbolizes himself, the true evil power in the story. To begin, the narrator is haunted by the idea that the eye is evil and that he must dispose of it. At the start, it is clear that the eye disturbs the narrator: “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually – I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe 413).