The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, a short story about internal conflict and obsession, showcases the tortured soul due to a guilty conscience. The story opens with an unnamed narrator describing a man deranged and plagued with a guilty conscience for a murderous act. This man, the narrator, suffers from paranoia, and the reason for his crime is solely in his disturbed mind. He becomes fixated on the victim’s (the old man’s) eye, and his conscience forces him to demonize the eye. Finally, the reader is taken on a journey through the planning and execution of a murder at the hands of the narrator. Ultimately, the narrator’s obsession causes an unjust death which culminates into internal conflict due to his guilty conscience. The narrator is a perverse example of how one’s guilty conscience ultimately causes a destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy. Poe chronicles the narrator’s guilt by describing obsessions of the tortured mind, eye, and heart. The tale begins with a dramatic declaration of a tortured mind: “very dreadful nervous I had been and am” (Poe 922). This vivid testimony immediately gives the reader insight into the narrator’s state of paranoia. Regardless of “how calmly” the narrator vows he can recount his story, his words foreshadow the crime he commits (Poe 922). He is mentally imbalanced and has committed a murder without rational motive. In “Ego-Evil and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’”, Magdalen Wing-chi Ki says the narrator’s mind is “utterly corrupt at its root” because he is “immune to the notion of right or wrong” (Wing-chi Ki 29). This underscores the ideology that the crime is without motive and is ultimately an irrational act, thus rendering the narrator acutely aware of the agonizing consequences of his actio... ... middle of paper ... ...dy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966. Print. Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Tell-Tale Heart." George McMichael, et al. Anthology of American Literature. Ed. 10th. Boston: Longman, 2011. 922-925. Print. Pritcher, Edward W. "The Physiognomical Meaning of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"." Studies in Short Fiction 16.3 (1979): 232. web. 1 November 2013. . Wing-chi Ki, Magdalen. "Ego-Evil and "The Tell-Tale Heart."." Renascence 61.1 (2008): 25-36. Web. 1 November 2013. . Witherington, Paul. "The Accomplice in "The Tell-Tale Heart"." Studies in Short Fiction 22.4 (1985): 471-475. Web. 1 November 2013. .
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