Insanity in the Short Story Tell Tale Heart
The Tell Tale Heart is a short story about the murder of an elderly man. In this story the narrator who is also the murderer is insane. This of course, is not everyone’s belief. Some believe the murderer is a calculated killer. The point of this essay, is to prove that the Murderer is insane.
This story is not clear as to weather the narrator is convincing himself or another individual that he is not mad. Our narrators argument only proves himself wrong, and makes himself out to be a fool.
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“’IT’S TRUE! YES, I HAVE BEEN ILL, very ill. But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad? Indeed the illness only made my mind, my feelings, my senses stronger, more powerful. I could hear sounds I had never heard before. I heard sounds from heaven and I heard sounds from hell!’” (page 4 Poe)
In this quote, it is clear that someone does indeed believe the narrator of the story is insane. He may have been sane at one time in his life, but he now talks of an illness that did indeed drive him to the point of insanity. He claims to hear sounds from heaven, and even hell. This is be evidence of possible demon possession. This of course, would prove the narrator to be a madman.
The narrator has already stated the presence of his illness. It could be that the illness was the cause of the murder in The Tell Tale Heart.
“’I think it was his eye. His eye was like the eye of a vulture… when the old man looked at me with his vulture eye a cold feeling went up and down my back; even my blood became cold. And so, I finally decided I had to kill the old man and close that eye forever!’” (page 2-3 Poe)
Here the narrator states the old mans eye sent shivers up and down his back. There are many Illnesses that give you shivers and cause delirium. Even the eye of the old man could have simply been a figment of the narrators imagination. The illness he speaks of could have very well been the cause of the madness going on in the murderers world.
Our killer often shouts, and hears things that are highly unlikely. These are common traits of the insane or possessed.
“’Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the boards and you shall see I killed him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?’” (page 4 Poe)
Here the narrator is shouting at the policemen. He is hearing the sound of his victims heart cry. The policemen do not hear the heart beating. Only our killer hears this insane heartbeat. This proves it is not real, it is the narrator fueled with guilt. This is evidence strongly against the possibility of the murder being a calculated killer. And points to him being an insane individual.
These points are here to prove the murderer in this story is insane rather than a calculated killer. The narrator is clearly proven to be a madman. It is important to know this because even though he was mad, it was no excuse for the murder that took place, for the blood on our narrators hands. In the end, the beating of their victims heart proves an insane mind, yet a brutally honest conscience.