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"The Tell-Tale Heart"
How can we justify a man is mad or not? A man may talk like a wise man, and yet act like a mad man. In Poe’s "The Tell-Tale Heart", the narrator depicted a story that he killed the old man because of the old man’s so-call "evil eye" which made his blood run cold. Althought the narrator tried to persuade the reader that he was normal, several pieces of evidence of confusing illusion and reality adequately indicates his madness and absurdity. By examining his behaviour and mind, I will expound his madness thoroughly.
Firstly, at the end of this story, the narrator’s illusions are the most powerful pieces of evidence for his madness. It is his two illusions that betrays him and imposed him to confess the crime. His first illusion is the beating of the old man’s heart which actually did not exist. Initialy, exactly as he portrayed "My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears, it continued and became more distinct", the ringing he heard haunted him ceaselessly. Then he "found that the noise was not within his ear", and thought the fancy in his ear was the beating of old man’s heart. Because of the increasing noise, he thought the officers must hear it, too. However, in fact, everything he heard is absurd and illusive. And it proves that the narrator is really insane. Next, his second illusion is the officers’ "hypocritical smiles" which pushed him to completely be out of control. Losting of his mind, he called the officer "Villains". Apparently, he was confused and falsely thought "they were making a mockery of his horror" which irritated him intensively. Consequently, he told all the truth and "admitted the deed" in order to get rid of the growing noise. Therefore, the above two pieces of evidence both reveal the truth that the narrator is absolutely insane in contrary to what the narrator tried to tell us.
Besides the ending of story, we can also figure out the contradiction what the narrator said from the front depiction. Above all, in the first paragragh, the narrator told us he was “very, very dreadfully nervous”, and it was the “disease” that had sharpened his senses. Moreover, this “disease” had a serious impact on his sense of hearing.
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Following his narration, in the second paragragh, he seemingly “how healthily and how calmly” narrated the whole story, but according to analyzing his narration closely, it is not difficult to find out there are still many proofs to manifest narrator’s madness. For instance, he said that “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this!” From this portrayal, he cleared up several resonable motivations to kill that old man, instead, coming up with an unusual reason ------just because of his “vulture eye”. Although the old man’ eye maybe is not very good-looking, even some sort of awful, normal people in general would not be so fear of an ugly eye that kill one man. So the most resonable explanation is that the protagonist is insane and has generated illusion in his mind again when he saw the old man’ “evil eye”. This is proved in this paragraph by his depiction “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 for ever.”
In order to convince readers to believe he is not a mad person, the narrator told readers his subtle preparation in the process of murderring the old man and wise precaution in concealment of the old man’s corpse. Nevertheless, his some of incredible behaviours and sentences still confessed his madness. Exploring from his sentences, we knew that he confused the old man’s identity. In his mind, he thought the “vulture eye” was not equal to the old man and what he tried to kill was the “vulture eye” not the old man. The second paragragh has already illuminated this expressly. In the second paragragh, he highlighted that he loved the old man, the old man did nothing wrong with him, and even he had no interests in the old man’ gold. To kill the old man, the narrator just wanted to get rid of the old man’s “evil eye”. Besides, the evidence is also very clear in his eight-night’ behaviour. During his killing process, the narrator came to observe the old man eight nights. If he wants to kill that old man, he can kill him at the first night. Conversely, untill on the eighth night he saw the old man’s “vulture eye”, he killed him. So obviously, his target is not the old man, but his “vulture eye”. This sufficiently indicates the narrator confused illusion and reality.
At last, not only does the protagonist’s depiction for old man’s psychologically distress reflects his madness and cruelty, but also shows he lost in his illusion again, upon the eighth night. Before he killed the old man, he claimed that he heard the old man’s “slight groan of mortal terror”, and he knew the sound well that was “the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe.”It reminded of his memory because he had been tortured by the same awe and groan in many night The same groan made him illude what he suffered everynight. It triggered his cruelty and madness to kill that old man.
In conclusion, despite the protagonist tried a lot to convince the reader he was normal, just a little “over-acuteness of the senses”, every piece of evidence reveals he is opposite to what he said. Due to he failed to distinguish his illusion and the reality, the narrator’s mind became abnormal. So I believe this short story is just exactly the insane narrator’s recollection.