Critical Essay- Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Tell Tale Heart tells the story of the murder of an elderly man by the narrator of the story. Was the narrator (hereafter referred to as he) truly insane or just broken by his guilt after the fact? The three factors we will use to answer this question are Intellect, Insanity and Irony.
The intelligence of the narrator is without question in this story. He plans everything down to the last detail from selecting his target, to lulling it into a false sense of security, and even to the manner of its execution. The premeditation of the act reveals the intelligence of the narrator. “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.” And for after the deed was done.
“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. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.
I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye – not even his – could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out – no stain of any kind – no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught it all – ha! ha!”
The narrator shows over the course of the story that he is a paranoid schizophrenic. The paranoia exhibited itself with the fixation on the “evil eye” and the worry that the neighbors and the officers would hear the beating of the old man’s heart. The schizophrenia shows itself in the insomnia allowing the narrator to stay up all hours peering at the old man after midnight. “And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it – oh, so gently!” The almost nonexistent positive emotions now held for the old man and his worldly things. “Passion there was...