The first way that the narrator displays a trait of insanity is through his use of repetition. The narrator starts the story by expressing how nervous he is then repeats it again, saying how “very, very dreadfully nervous,” he is (Poe 1186). Not much later, when describing how he spies on the old man at night, he describes how slowly, repeats slowly, he crept his head in so as not to disturb the old man. In these two examples, the narrator repeating himself shows insanity because it makes it look like he is doubting his first description of what happened. Basically, it is like he is editing a draft in real time. It isn’t until the end of the story that the repetition really takes over the narrator’s mind. As he is sitting there listening to the cops talk and believes he is hearing a heart beating, growing gradually louder by the second. Right before he finally turns himself in he says, “I felt that I must scream or die...
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...is smiling. He laughs again after dismembering the body. Until he starts hearing the heart beating again, he is happy and talkative with the police, content with his perfect deed. Which ironically enough, the heart beat that once brought him happiness is now the cause of his confession.
In conclusion, there are many instances throughout “The Tell-Tale Heart” that point to the narrator’s mental unhealthiness. The exact disease that he refers to is never named, nor does he ever expose his name to the reader. This anonymity adds a slight element of confusion to the reader, as we never know if this is a man or woman. There are a few disorder that the narrator shows characteristics of, schizophrenia for example, but there is no concrete evidence that proves he suffers from that disorder. The only thing that is certain about the narrator, is that he is certainly not sane.
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