The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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Clear Paranoia

In the story, The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator in the story is portrayed as the antihero with a very disturbed mind. The narrator while using precise extraneous details concerning his behavior to try to convince you of his sanity attributes the motivation of his actions to psychotic happenings that those who are sane can easily distinguish as those of insanity and paranoia and he therefore is an unreliable witness to the events as they occurred. The narrator is unable to distinguish reality from his paranoid delusions because he focuses on the eye as a separate being that is the cause of his frustration, while at the same time freely admitting that the old man has done him no wrong. The eye itself cannot cause such mental distress to another, just by the sight of it, showing even more of the narrator’s instability and unreliability. In the night of the fated hour, the narrator perceives that the old man’s heartbeat began to grow louder with each passing moment. The narrator, seized by anxiety believed that the neighbors would hear the old man’s heartbeat, and this delusion ultimately spurred his taking of the old man’s life. The narrator stating that the old man’s heartbeat might be loud enough for the neighbors to hear shows the reader beyond question the level of insanity that the narrator has delved into at this point in the story. The narrator’s insanity is proven true when he starts to have an episode in which he believes the old man’s heart is again beating ever louder even though he has already murdered the old man. The guilt of murder has increased his paranoia, to the degree to which he no longer knows if the heartbeat is reality or imagination. He cannot determine if the fellow police officers are hearing the heartbeat and they are merely mocking his or if in fact they cannot hear it. The narrator’s tenuous hold on his sanity becomes more and more difficult for him as he perceives the beats of the dead heart to grow louder and...
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