He says that he is going to tell a story in which he will defend his sanity yet confess to having killed an old man.
In a sense, the narrator is worse than a beast; only a human being could so completely terrorize his victim before finally killing it, as, for example, the narrator deliberately terrorizes the old man before killing him.
The story begins with the narrator admitting that he is a "very dreadfully nervous" type. His sensitivities allow him to hear and sense things in heaven, hell, and on earth that other people are not even aware of.
Ironically, the narrator offers as proof of his sanity the calmness with which he can narrate the story. The story begins boldly and unexpectedly: Even though he knows that we, the readers, might consider him mad for this decision, yet he plans to prove his sanity by showing how "wisely" and with what extreme precaution, foresight, and dissimulation he executed his deeds.
It would sometimes take him an hour to go that far — "would a madman have been so wise as this? For seven nights, he opened the door ever so cautiously, then when he was just inside, he opened his lantern just enough so that one small ray of light would cast its tiny ray upon "the vulture eye.
On the eighth night, he decided it was now the time to commit the deed. When he says "I fairly chuckled at the idea," we know that we are indeed dealing with a highly disturbed personality — despite the fact that he seems to present his story very coherently.
Furthermore, as in works like "The Cask of Amontillado," the moans of the victim heighten the terror of the story. But he warns the reader not to mistake his "over-acuteness of the senses" for madness because he says that suddenly there came to his ears "a low, dull, quick sound": The question is, obviously, whose heart does he hear?
We all know that in moments of stress and fright our own heartbeat increases so rapidly that we feel every beat. Consequently, from the psychological point of view, the narrator thinks that he is hearing his own increased heartbeat. As he waits, the heartbeat which he heard excited him to uncontrollable terror, for the heart seemed to be "beating.
Thus, the time had come. He dragged the old man to the floor, pulled the mattress over him and slowly the muffled sound of the heart ceased to beat. The old man was dead — "his eye would trouble me no more. First, he dismembered the old man, and afterward there was not a spot of blood anywhere: Likewise, the delight he takes in dismembering the old man is an act of extreme abnormality.
As he surveyed his work, the door bell rang at 4 A. The police were there to investigate some shrieks. To the reader, this is an unexpected turn of events, but in such tales, the unexpected becomes the normal; see the section on "Edgar Allan Poe and Romanticism.
Afterward, he bade the police to sit down, and he brought a chair and sat upon "the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
He grew agitated and spoke with a heightened voice. The sound increased; it was "a low, dull quick sound. As the beating increased, the narrator "foamed [and] raved" adjectives commonly used to apply to a mad man.In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator confesses a love for an old man whom he then violently murders and dismembers.
The narrator reveals his madness by attempting to separate the person of the old man, whom he loves, from the old man’s supposedly evil eye, which triggers the narrator’s hatred. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" When reading a story of this nature, one must be reminded not to take horror in Poe too autobiographically.
The narrator's "nervousness" is a frequently used device of Poe to establish tone and plausibility through heightened states of consciousness. "The Tell-Tale Heart" "The Black Cat" "The Cask of Amontillado" "William Wilson" "The Pit and the Pendulum" "The Masque of the Red Death" Critical Essays Edgar .
In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator confesses a love for an old man whom he then violently murders and dismembers. The narrator reveals his madness by attempting to separate the person of the old man, whom he loves, from the old man’s supposedly evil eye, which triggers the narrator’s hatred.
Home > Students>Poe's Works and TImeline>The Tell-Tale Heart. The Tell-Tale Heart. By Edgar Allan Poe - Published Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story. It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.
Object there was none. Passion. Essays and criticism on Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart - Critical Essays.