October 21, 2012
“The Tell-Tale Heart” Our versions of reality are disrupted in “The Tell-Tale Heart” as we might identify with it in many ways we do not acknowledge. Something flickers our inquisitiveness and compels us to follow the narrator through the disturbing labyrinth of his mind. The reader is also able to further question the narrator’s actions in a psychological aspect and possibly see the collapse of the human mind and how paranoia and insanity work in close cooperation. Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, presents to the reader a psychological depiction of a narrator who describes his crime with detailed accounts. This Gothic short story shows the dim side of individuals. The story is narrated in first-person; as a result, the reader is not able to conclude a great deal of what the narrator is saying is true. Poe utilizes his words prudently throughout the story to expose a review of paranoia, insanity, and mental declination. The story is stripped of additional elements as a method to intensify the narrator’s fixation with certain and unembellished objects like the eye of the old man, the heartbeat, and his assertion to sanity. Even though the narrator constantly affirms that he is not insane, the reader could presume otherwise due to his bizarre way of thinking, actions, and dialogue. The narrator begins the story by focusing on the reader and stating that he is “nervous” not “mad.” In fact, this statement can be seen in the first two sentences of the story when he believes he must persuade the reader that he is not insane. “Very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” (Poe). The narrator admits to having a “disease” that has “sharpened his senses.” “Hearing” is his most increased sense, and states to be able to hear everything going on in “heaven,” “earth,” and most of what’s going on in “hell.”According to him, this is unlike than an insane person, whose senses are entirely gone, or at minimum very weak. However, any person suffering to some degree of any type of medical condition could also suffer a parallel modification in his or her senses. He recollects in almost slow motion, composed detail his actions for the week before the murder, leading to the death of the old man and the incidents after. Though we do not know the connection between the old man and the narrator, he tells us that he loved him “I loved the old man. He has never wronged me” (Poe). His purpose for killing the old man was not money neither passion, but his fixation with the old man’s eye. “He has the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it” (Poe). It is the “evil eye” that assists as the cause for the narrator’s manic spells. These spells cause the narrator to comprehend that the way to defeat his torment is to abolish its owner, the old man. “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe). An example of this statement can be seen on the part of the story where the narrator goes to the old man’s room at for seven days at midnight, opens the door and protrudes his head then proceeds to open the lantern, just enough to let a small amount of light on the old man’s eye. But he cannot kill the old man; since he won’t open his eye. The mental unsteadiness of the narrator can be seen here as he executes such an act. Although the narrator recognizes that the reader may deem him as a madman (The very idea of a “madman” relates to an individual under the state of insanity) for his actions, still he intends to show his sanity. “How could thou be insane, he asks, and be so careful at the same time” (Poe)? He disputes that human beings who are insane don’t have any understanding or ability, while on the other hand he plans everything well and is exceptionally careful. This course of action is totally mad common sense as having knowledge in...
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