Edgar Allan Poe's Paranoia

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Marra Wagner
Sophomore English-Mr. Hornung
10/25/10

Edgar Allan Poe displays a disturbing paranoia in his short story "The Tell-Tale Heart." The narrator in the story, who is also the main character, begins to show signs of illness from the very beginning. His paranoia is shown when he can not look into the old man's "vulture eye" (384), which is the main cause of his paranoia. The narrator in this story shows signs of persecutory paranoia. Persecutory paranoia is "the most prevalant type of paranoia in which the patient believes that all those around them are enemies... they often turn [into] dangerous killers" (depression-guide.com). His paranoia is displayed when he is persecuted about the eye, he begins imagining things, and ultimately when he can not control his emotions any longer.

The nameless main character of this story begins to show signs of paranoia right from the beginning. He speaks of the old man's eye as if it was out to get him, calling it "vulture eye" or "Evil Eye" (385). The narrator sees the eye as completely seperate from the man, and as a result, he is capable of murdering the old man while maintaining that he loves him. The narrator's desire to "rid [himself] of the eye forever" (384) motivates his murder, but the narrator does not realise the fact that this will end the old man's life. When the narrator describes the murder, he specifically only looks at the man's eye as if it is a seperate entity that he is after, even though the old man and the eye are one in the same. He explains, "I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot" (387). His paranoia of the "Evil Eye" causes him to end the old man's life altogether, however this strategy back fires when his mind begins imagining other parts of the old man's body working against him as well.

The narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" defends himself against madness in terms of...
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