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Edgar Allan Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart - What Should The Killer's Punishment Be?

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Edgar Allan Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart

What Should the Killer's Punishment Be?

In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator describes the brutal murder of his roommate, while constantly pleading his case of sanity. Through this, we come to realize that the narrator is nothing other than insane. Although the narrator is insane, he committed a grotesque murder and should pay for what he did. In a case like this, although the person is insane, you want to give them a cruel and unjust sentence, like the cruel and unjust murder they committed. Criminals and insane people are both a threat to themselves and society but in different ways, which is why there is jail for criminals and insane asylums for psychopaths.

The Tell-Tale Heart illustrates the human spirit of the narrator as a mysterious and inexplicable force. After reading the first paragraph of the story, I have already decided that the narrator is, in fact, insane. "I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell" (Poe 1). Anyone who earnestly states that they heard things in heaven and hell clearly is not in their right mind. The narrator then tries proving his sanity due to the fact that he can tell the whole story calmly; this in fact does the opposite. Anyone who can tell the story of police coming in the middle of the night about a murder calmly is strange. "Hearken! And observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story" (Poe 1). So far, everything he says proves that he is insane.

The perpetrator states clearly that he enjoys the act of killing. "In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him, I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far gone" (Poe 2). Not only does he kill the old man because of an infected eye, but he also dismembers the body. He also brags of how neat he was and seems very proud of this. He is clearly not in his right mind; his acts are shocking. When the police arrive, the narrator invites them in for coffee, where they drink the coffee in the roommates' room right above the dead, mangled body. Anyone who was trying to get away with murder clearly would not do any of the above.

I have concluded that the narrator is guilty, but is also insane. What should his punishment be? If it were someone who was



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