Get help now

Edgar Allan Poes The Tell-Tale Heart: The Narrators Insanity

Academic anxiety?

Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task

Get help now

124 experts online

In Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” the narrates shows several clear signs of insanity. This short story could be described as a man who kills someone and then vents by writing down what happened to convince himself he is sane. In the story he feels the need to explain to the reader that he isn’t actually insane, decides to kill the old man because of his eye, stalks him, and then kills him and acts totally normal when the police show up.

“True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”. This is how the narrator starts his vicious story about the killing and dismembering of an old man who has never even wronged him. Right off the bat he explains that he isn’t mad, but just very nervous. Any innocent or sane person would never feel the need to explain to his audience that he is not insane before even telling them why they might think that he is. As he continues to claim he isn’t mad he writes, “Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?” Hearing many things in hell is not something that happens to someone who’s totally sane. He even question how he’s mad again after saying he’s been hearing many things in hell.

The narrator claims that he decided he was going to kill the old man because his eye had a film over it, that resembled a vulture’s eye. He further explained his feelings toward the eye by saying, “He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold.”. Maybe he just really hates vultures, but I’m pretty sure he is just insane. The phrase “my blood ran cold” means that he became absolutely terrified of the eye when he would see it, again this isn’t the response that any sane person would have. A sane person might look at the vulture eye and just think that it looks gross, but they wouldn’t become terrified of it. Even back in the time that this story takes place, people probably knew about ulcers or whatever the medical condition was.

Another instance that the narrator tries to claim he isn’t insane is right after he writes about how he spent seven nights stalking the old man, while he’s asleep, just so he can see his eye. He even admits that he could only kill the old man if his eye is open when he says “I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously –cautiously (for the hinges creaked) –I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights –every night just at midnight –but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.” Spending hours every night to get into someone’s room without them knowing and then just staring at them because their eye isn’t open is something no sane person would ever do.

Once the narrator finally sees the old man’s eye and decides it’s time to kill him, he does so by squishing him under a bed. This seems like a truly painful way to die, especially when the narrator could have just killed him in a way that’s a quicker and would cause less pain. On top of killing the old man in a gruesome way, he describes how he cut him up by saying, “First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.” Even serial killers don’t always dismember their victims, this further proves he is truly insane. Even when the police showed up to the house the narrator doesn’t lose his cool, like a normal person in fear of getting arrested for murder might. He says ” My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease.” If he was sane I think he would be visually showing that he was nervous, and the police would have caught onto the signs.

In Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator is almost beyond insane. As I said in this blog, even serial killers don’t even do some things that the narrator does, yet everyone generally agrees that they are insane. I don’t think that there could be much of an argument that anyone feels the need to defend their sanity before it is questioned, kills an old man who has never wronged them because of his eye, stalks him, and then kills him and acts totally normal when the police show up, could actually be sane.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need custom essay sample written special for your assignment?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

Edgar Allan Poes The Tell-Tale Heart: The Narrators Insanity. (2022, Nov 30). Retrieved from

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Hi, my name is Amy 👋

In case you can't find a relevant example, our professional writers are ready to help you write a unique paper. Just talk to our smart assistant Amy and she'll connect you with the best match.

Get help with your paper