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An Analysis of the Tell Tale Heart

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One maybe considered sane to some and completely insane in the perception of others. Sanity is all based within the eye of the beholder. A person that is completely insane does not necessarily know that their insane. In all actuality they usually believe that the people around them are the one's who are insane and that they are out to get them. It is said that if one truly mentally believes that they are sick that in turn that person will become physically sick as well. The human mind is a very powerful thing and should not be taken lightly.

In this short story one is lead to fabricate many different ideas about the characters within it. Usually, these characters are faced with situations that give the reader an insight into their true character. The narrator of the story is faced with a fear. His fear is the image of the Old Man's Eye. The measures that this narrator takes in order to repress his fear may lead one to believe that he suffers from some sort of mental illness. The very fact that this narrator is so repulsed by the old man's eye, which he refers to as the evil eye, is some what of a justifiable reason to be suspicious of his character.

The narrator has an internal struggle with the deliberation that the evil eye is watching him and has the anxious feeling that the evil eye will see the real person that he has become. This paranoia leads the narrator to believe that the only way he can be exonerated of his fears is to kill the old man. It is said that denial is usually the sign of a problem. If this holds true, then the narrator of the story has the characteristics of a complete psychopath. In the first paragraph, he asks, "but why will you say that I am mad!" (Poe) This statement can be looked upon as a statement made by someone going through a paranoid episode. He talks as if he is in frenzy, especially when he talks about hearing things in heaven and in hell. The disease had sharpened my sensesÐ'...Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavenÐ'...I heard many things in hell. (Poe)

Nearly all people with some sort of a mental illness state that some force causes them to perform certain actions and as in Poe's story the narrator speaks of the evil eye and expresses it as being the assailant of the characters conscience that eventually drives him to take the life of the old man.

The progression of the story revolves around the actions of the narrator. He describes the wise ways in which he prepares himself to commit this sinful endeavor. The way the narrator stalks the old man the whole week before he kills him could be considered evidence of one who is having a mental quandary. Every night he would watch the old man sleep. He found comfort in knowing that the eye was not watching him during this time and that it could not see the true malevolence within his soul. While the eye was closed, so was the idea of killing the old man. It is not until the old man awakens each day that the struggle within is evident once again. This may be the reason why the narrator is so infatuated with watching the old man sleep.

The actual act of murder, which the narrator believes to have been premeditated, was in actuality an impulsive action. He toiled with the idea while the man was awake, that is, while he could see the evil eye. However, while the eye was closed, the narrator was at peace. One night, during one of the narrator's stalking sessions, the old man awakens. The narrator goes into a paranoid frenzy, mistaking the beating of his own heart for the beating of the old man's. During this frenzy, the narrator is afraid that neighbors will hear the roaring beat of the man's heart. This causes the narrator to take action. He quickly subdues the old man and kills him. He then takes extreme steps in disposing of the body, dismembering it and burying it under the planks in the floorboard.



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