Psychosis In “The Tell Tale Heart”

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart” has a common theme of psychosis. Psychosis is a very prominent theme seen all throughout the story. It makes the whole story have plot twist after plot twist. The reason for such psychosis is because the narrator lets it completely take over, to a point where he can only become more psychotic.

In “The Tell- Tale Heart”, the narrator simply commits a crime due to the fact that he cannot stand the old man’s eye. The narrator believes that the old man’s eye has made him loose control, while telling the reader to stop questioning him because it is totally normal for an individual to go insane due to a person’s eye.

The narrator states that “I did not hate the old man; I even loved him.” This quote shows that there was no hatred between the old man and the narrator. In fact, they actually enjoyed one another, and did not have any animosity towards each other. This also is a great example because it shows that the only true ultimatum for killing the old man was because of his eye, furthermore showing that little by little the narrator was becoming increasingly psychotic. However, he keeps convincing the reader that this a normal and rational thinking practice.

The next thing to demonstrate that the common theme is psychosis is when the narrator references the old man’s eye and compares it to a vulture’s eye. He goes further and explains how it is the same as, “…the eye of one of those terrible birds that watch and wait while an animal dies, and then fall upon the dead body and pull it to pieces to eat it.” This expresses the extreme uneasiness that the narrator has towards this eye. It also explains another insane reason why that eye made him want to kill him. The simplicity of an eye has turned the narrator into an irrational thinking and has been utterly overruled by the way the old man’s eye appears. He becomes unable even think about his actions and lets the way that the eye appears get the outright best of him from the start. This makes it impossible to clear his head and simply understand that it is only an eye and if the narrator does not like it, he can simply just avoid him.

The narrator is so held bent with making sure that the reader is on board with him. The purpose of this is to get the reader to think that what he is doing is downright ordinary. Even stating, “A madman cannot plan. But you should have seen me.” The narrator believes that since he was able to plan how he was going to kill the old man that he has to be sane. He thinks that if he had not planned it then he had to be a madman. Only a sane man would plan a murder.

When the narrator is explaining the killing, he expresses how he sees the eye and becomes suddenly angrier. The only thing that he was able to see in that moment was his eye. He did not see anything else including the way the old man was struggling nor the way any other part of his body was moving during it. Finally, he had killed the old man but more importantly he had killed the eye. During the killing the heart is extremely symbolic for psychosis. It symbolizes the overall insane level that had to kill him. His heart begins to beat an unnormal amount to the point where he is even more insane then what he was.

The narrator is so psychotic that he takes apart every single limb and puts them underneath the floor board. This becomes significant due to the fact that the police show up to the house. The narrator is so confident that no one will ever find out about the murder that he invited the policemen to come inside. He allowed the officers walk around the entire house, and the narrator was still convinced that he had everyone fooled. The narrator even stated, “… search it all, to search it well.” He has gone completely blind to the fact that no normal person would have been able to keep such a straight face and act as though he had no committed a crime while being accused of a murder. The heart is also lead to deliberate and believe that it is the beating of the old man’s heart that he is inquiring.

The narrator allows the officers to even go inside the room where the old man was murder to observe it. Making this even more insane, he asks the policemen to sit down. Then suddenly the heart beat came in stronger and stronger, unable to stop. The narrator is so far beyond absent that he gets up and hears sounds in his head, something was speaking to him. He even tried talking over, but still finding himself hearing something in his head. Then right there, the narrator completely loses his mind. He is convinced that the officers know he killed the old man, as if they were playing a game with him. He lets his emotions in his head get the absolute best of him. He has completely gone psychotic and there was no turning back. Doing anything to make the noises stop, he finally confesses that he had killed the old man and that he is body is underneath the floorboards.

Throughout “The Tell- Tale Heart”, the narrator allows himself to go fully psychosis. To the point where there is no return. With making the reader feel as though the narrator is convincing himself that he is not only sane but also as ordinary as anyone. He does not do anything that a regular person would not do. This allowed for plot twists to occur, making the end like no other. The narrator let the old man’s eye control his whole brain, to the point where he goes entirely insane.