A traumatic event is an experience that completely overwhelms the person’s ability to cope with the emotions involved with that experience. In many cases, it may take weeks or years for someone to cope with their immediate circumstances. The narrator’s severe denial of his actions displays his inability to cope with what he did, which shows the psychological trauma that he went through. Trauma can lead to retrograde amnesia, the inability to recall events prior to the traumatic event. Coupled with false memories, much of the narrator’s story is misperceived and induced by madness.
In the opening paragraph of The Tell Tale Heart, the narrator exclaims, “True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? [. . .] Hearken! And observe how healthily – how calmly I can tell you the whole story” (Poe 43). It is clear that the narrator is explaining his story to someone. The fact that the entire story is being told in the past immediately indicates that he was in a different state...
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...e may very well be trying to convince the mysterious ‘eye’ that he’s not mad and what he did was indeed the right thing to do.
Trauma can change a man. In fact, posttraumatic stress disorder can develop as a result. However, in the narrator’s case, the situation is way more severe. He became delusional and used logical fallacies to prove a case he could never win. Although the narrator may have been insane as the story was told, he was mentally stable up until he committed the murder.
Lovecraft, H.P. “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” Dagon and Other Macabre Tales. London: Victor Gollancz, 1967. This text is a gaslight etext taken from http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/superhor.htm.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Tell-Tale Heart.” rpt. in Fiction: A Pocket Anthology, 5th Edition. Ed. R.S. Gwynn. New York: Pearson/Penguin Academics, 2007. 43-47.
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