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"The Tell Tale Heart" Progressive Insanity Essay

1150 words - 5 pages

In Edgar Allan Poe?s most famous short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843) Poe gives a psychological portrait of a mad narrator who recounts his murder of an old man. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is merely a "tale of conscience," in which Poe exposes the dark side of humankind by giving this short story a psychological thrill. The narrator or madman in this story tells the story in first- person, therefore, the reader can not determine how much of what he says is true. Although the narrator repeatedly states that he is sane, the reader suspects otherwise because of his bizarre reasoning, behavior, and speech. Psychotic reasoning, psychotic illusions, and psychotic behavior are three causes in the ...view middle of the document...

The narrator provides his own proof about straightforward betrayal of his own conscience.A psychotic illusion is another significant cause of the outcome of the story. There are many different illusions that the narrator gives to the readers to visualize. One of the illusions or physical manifestations that the narrator gives the readers is the illusion of the virtual eye on the old man. Poe writes, " I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture?a pale, blue eye with film over it" (1). The narrator gives the readers a visualization of a filmy pale, blue eye on the old man that he wants to discharge of. Also, Kopley quotes that "The mad narrator seems dammed at the beginning of the story, having ?heard many things in hell,? and the ?Evil Eye? apparently recognizes his damnation" (5). The narrator also gives another psychotic illusion of the sound of an interminable heartbeat. Once the narrator psychotically visualizes the heartbeat is that the sound causes the narrator to have an overwhelming sense of guilt, which eventually leads to the outcome of the story.The last cause that leads to the effect or outcome of the story is psychotic behavior of the narrator. There are many different psychotic and bizarre behaviors that the narrator shows the readers at the end of the story that he is actually insane, but only one really stands out. The major psychotic behaviors in the story are a repetition of behaviors, which is the seven nights of sneaking in on the old man. The narrator or madman behaves repeatedly sneaking for seven nights, in which he places his head in the chambers of the old man with the evil eye each night tentatively. He also shines a light upon the old man?s evil eye so that the madman might be able to see it. Nevertheless, on the eighth night of the lurking the madman is more cautious than ever before, but the sound of his chuckling voice startles his sleeping victim. Kopley quotes "The young man open his lantern ?stealthily? and shines it upon the ?Evil Eye,? then jumps into the room and kills the ?old man? because of his ?Evil...

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