The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe deals with a mans mental deterioration and his descent into madness. The story focuses on the narrator and his obsessions. It is told from a first person point of view by the protagonist himself. The point of view of the story is important because the reader only has one side of the story to work with. Therefore, the reader only knows what the narrator thinks and sees.
This complicates things in deciding why the narrator goes insane. However, the narrator does reveal his insanity, and he reveals it through his obsessions. The narrators obsessions include; his obsessions with his own sanity, the old mans evil eye, and the old mans beating heart.
The Tell-Tale Heart is a story about a man, in this case the narrator, who for eight consecutive nights goes to the bedroom of another man. He stands at the door watching the man sleep with a single ray of light pointing directly at the sleeping mans eye, an evil eye according to the narrator. On the eighth night, the man is sitting up in bed with his eye open, and the narrator, consumed by the evil eye and the sound of the mans beating heart races into the room and kills the man in his bed.
After the murder, the narrator dismembers the body, and buries the old man under his floor. As the story progresses, the narrator continually expresses that he is not mad. The way that he says this leads the reader to believe that the narrator is trying to convince him or her that he is not insane. However, he is really trying to convince himself that he is not mad. For instance, the narrator, at one point simply says, If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. First of all I dismembered the corpse.
I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. The narrator is obviously under some deranged notion that its normal to kill someone and hide the body. Aside from that, he is actually proud of his method for disposal of the corpse as he puts it. At this point, it is safe to say that the narrator is definitely insane.
The narrator also has an unusual obsession with the old mans eye. The idea of the evil eye carries on throughout the story, until finally the narrator snaps, and does something about it.
It takes the narrator seven days of watching the man sleep to finally act upon his instincts. He finally catches a glance at the old mans eye on the eighth night, and he is so enraged by this that he is forced to kill him. This isnt exactly something that can be considered normal. It cant even be considered normal excluding the murder for that matter. For a person to be obsessed with something as simple as the color of an eye doesnt exactly fall into the category of someone who is all there. On top of this, he had no real motive for committing the murder.
He even states this at the beginning saying, Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! Its almost as if the narrator, as he is retelling the story, attempts to make up a motive for the murder. This seems like something childish.
The way the narrator says the above line, it almost seems as though he is trying to make his story better. Without a motive, his story might be considered dull, and the reader may lose interest. An evil eye livens the story up, and makes it more appealing to the reader. The way he expresses it however makes it sound as if the eye really wasnt his motive, and the only thing the narrator could remember about the old man was that the old man had a pale blue eye, with a film over it. On the other hand, it is possible that the narrator really is obsessed with .