“The Tell-Tale Heart” In “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, there are only five characters mentioned in the story: the narrator, the old man, and three police officers, none of whom is ever named. Throughout the story, the narrator tells the audience over and over that he is not mad. He becomes obsessed with trying to prove that he is not a madman and eventually goes crazy in the end. He tells the story of how he kills the old man after seven nights of watching him sleep. He has nothing against the old man and actually likes him, but it is the old man’s pale blue eye with a film over it that overwhelms the narrator with anger.
Without making a sound, he would enter his room at night, and light a lantern so he could see the eye. The narrative described this eye as his “Evil Eye” (Poe n.p.). One night, however, the old man woke up to the narrator’s entrance. The eye, however, wasn’t the only thing he heard that night. The old man’s heartbeat was sharpened.
He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. 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 1) The next character introduced is the narrator. He is both complex and interesting. He thinks he is not crazy. As he goes out of his way to prove that his is not insane, he does the exact opposite.
On the surface, the physical setting of The Tell Tale Heart is typical of the period and exceedingly typical of Poe. The narrator and the old man live in an old, dark house: '(for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers)'; (Poe 778). Most of the story takes place at night: 'And this I did for seven long nights-every night just at midnight? '; (778). The physical aspect is not the most important component of setting for this analysis.
The few early risers stomped like walking dead on the cold streets, neither a sleep, nor awake, dead or alive. The stiffness of the haze shrouded the town with an uncertain mysteriousness, like a dark figure lurking around the corner. Jasper fell into the every new day, which had become a hell to him. With the ominous anniversary pushing closer every minute, no longer did daylight provide freedom from his nightmares. Previously, he had only been vulnerable during his sleep, which currently, he rarely received.
For some strange reason, the narrator was obsessed with the old man’s eye. He wasn’t even certain on how it started, but to him, it was an eye of a vulture. The old man was going to be murdered because of his pale blue eye. Infact, for seven straight nights at midnight the eye was closed. It wasn’t until finally on the eighth night when the narrator’s thumb slipped on the tin fastening, which woke up the old man.
For the next week or so, we lived in terror, hoping that the entire experience was a strange dream, but that was not to be. The rats scratched and bit at the glass, though it gave no leeway. The rats and us were at a stalemate - if we went outside, the rats would devour us greedily, and if they managed to break in, the rats would still gobble us down. In any case, both choices were in the rats’ favor, so we stayed inside the lighthouse, for fear of our lives. It was dull for a while, since all we ever did was eat, sleep, and occasionally play a game, all while the rats snarled at us, keeping us on our toes.
Another strange thing about this boogieman, he didn’t hide under the bed waiting to grab my ankles as my brothers said he would. This boogieman was always standing and invisible to the naked physical eye. He would always just stare across the room pass my two brothers looking directly at me in the dark. There would be hundreds of more nights like this dreaded one. Even worse, I’d eventually encounter these beings and have full contact.
He admits that there was no interest, no passion whatsoever in killing the old man, whom he loved. Throughout the story, the narrator directs us towards how he boldly ends up committing a horrifying murder and dissecting the corpse into pieces. Subsequently, we can observe that the conventional definition of irony is met; he tries to convince the readers about his fully sane state of mind but in turn, ends up exposing his utmost insanity. The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” who claims to be sane is in fact trying to get away with the punishment for the crime that he readily admits by faking insanity through ironic means. Edgar Allan Poe, the writer himself is the one who establishes the irony in this story, not the narrator because the latter seems to be completely insensible about the ironic component of his monologue.