Tell Tale Heart Essay Analysis Thesis

Critical Analysis of Poe's The Tell Tale Heart Essay examples

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Critical Analysis of Poe's The Tell Tale Heart

The Tell Tale Heart is a story, on the most basic level, of conflict. There is a mental conflict within the narrator himself (assuming the narrator is male). Through obvious clues and statements, Poe alerts the reader to the mental state of the narrator, which is insanity. The insanity is described as an obsession (with the old man's eye), which in turn leads to loss of control and eventually results in violence. Ultimately, the narrator tells his story of killing his housemate. Although the narrator seems to be blatantly insane, and thinks he has freedom from guilt, the feeling of guilt over the murder is too overwhelming to bear. The narrator cannot tolerate it and eventually…show more content…

One statement by the narrator sums up his mental state: 'You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me'; (777). What he is actually saying is: 'There are madmen who are clumsy in their actions, but not this madman!'; This is as close to a self-admission of insanity as possible. The mental setting is put into place by the narrator's own statements. This setting is pure chaos starting in the head of the killer and spilling out into the physical world around him resulting in an unnecessary death. When the narrator is explaining the end of his tale to the unnamed listener (presumably a jailor, or a mental health practitioner), he states the beating of the heart was unbearable on his conscious:

'I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited by the observations of the men-but the noise steadily increased?I foamed-
I raved-I swore!?the noise arose over all and continually increased.
It grew louder-louder-louder!?They heard!-they suspected!-they knew!?I felt I must scream or die!';(780).

The narrator proceeded to admit his killing of the old man. Obviously, his mental state was one of pure fear and disillusion. An auditory hallucination of a dead heart beating caused so much mental anguish in the narrator that it made him confess to the crime. This indeed shows insanity. Yet this insanity was not as strong as the guilt pushing through it.

Another element that supports the theme is

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