Eng.101 Mr. Cough
"The Tell-Tale Heart"
The behavior of the narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart demonstrates characteristic's that are affiliated with people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. When Poe wrote this story in 1843 obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoia had not been discovered. However in modern times the characteristics demonstrated by the narrator leads people to believe that he has a mental illness. Poe's narrator demonstrates classic signs throughout the story leading the reader to believe that this character is mad. Most psychiatrists believe that when a person suffers from paranoia they most likely have paranoid schizophrenia. Frederick Frese is a chief psychologist at Ohio mental hospital, Paranoid schizophrenia is defined as " excessive concern about one's own well being, sometimes suggesting the person holds persecutory beliefs concerning a threat to themselves or their property." Some characteristics are "confusion; indecision; nervousness, suicidal and homicidal thoughts. People with paranoia tend to believe that they have super sensitive hearing. They hear inanimate object taking to them or voices that don't exist "Many People with schizophrenia go through periods of getting better and worse. They have remission and relapse. They can go for long periods of time without any symptoms."(Frese 13) In the case of Poe's narrator, he showed symptom of paranoia. He believed that the old room mate's eye was evil." One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture- a pale blue eye, with a film over it."(Poe 117) The narrator comments that he liked the old man but didn't like his eye. The narrator justifies the murder by believing that the old man will vex him. The irony here is that the old man is murdered because he is considered a madman by one who is himself insane. The narrator believes that by killing the old man he can get rid of the curse that the eye possesses.