“The Tell Tale Heart” (story)

In stories, there are some characters who play very disturbing roles but are their actions always intentional or unintentional? There are many contributing factors that give the reader the idea of the characters intent. These can be summed up in two questions. How do they play their role in the story? There are often context clues that can tall you if it is intentional even if it is not disclosed. Do they seem conscious of what they are doing? This can be defined by their narration and the way the author writes their inner thoughts. An example of this is the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is written as a calculated killer and it is shown through hints from the author and his inner narration.

The first piece of evidence we are presented with is his timing. In the story it specifies, “You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight-(Poe)” clearly showing the reader he intentionally planned the murder for midnight. The question is would a madman have done this with such precise timing? A madman would have executed the murder with no sense of planning or timing. More evidence of comes from this quote from the text, “And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently! (Poe)” it would be strange if someone with no sense of consciousness came every night exactly at midnight. This is the first example that shows he is a self-aware Antagonist.

The next example is his line of thought through the whole murder. He thinks about the old man and narrates his guilt while he is committing the crim. The narrator tells the reader I say I knew it well.” I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, (Poe)” indicating he had a little bit of remorse towards the man. However, his reason for why he wants to murder the man was because he simply did not like the man’s eye and found it disturbing. Sometimes people will go to the extreme to get rid of something they simply do not like or things they are afraid of. The reader may be asking, “Why did the narrator commit murder if he pitied the old man?” This is simple, the Narrator had a one-track mind and felt like he had to finish what he started. The reader is told for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. (Poe)” because he does not hate the old man himself he hated his eye. Sometimes people try to justify what they are doing in order to keep going with it and he used the eye as his justification. He is trying to convince himself that he is not in the wrong, but at the same time he knows that the reader WILL view him as a madman if he does not come up with some type of justification.

The place he hid the man took some masterful thinking to execute. He removed the floorboards and hid the body with such attention to detail. He knew if he did not, he would get caught. Though it is not specified, he most likely planned these steps ahead of time, so he knew exactly what to do after he was done with the murder. It would be awfully strange for someone who presumably had no sanity could impulsively hide the man’s corpse so cleverly. The narrator illustrates his actions, “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 (Poe)” and then he goes on to describe the precautions and process he goes through to conceal the body. “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. (Poe)” This provides the reader with enough evidence to support the fact that he did this off of his own quick thinking and wit.

The reader may be asking “How are his thoughts eating him internally?” Well, after the narrator committed murder, he started to feel guilty about his actions. This guilt began after the police entered the room to look for his victim. Because of his guilt, he started to hear the heart of his victim within the floor boards “I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. (Poe)” because of this detail in the story, you can tall that the narrator is suffering from his inner guilt. A theme often found Edgar Allen Poe’s stories is taking perfectly sane people, such as the man in his poem “The Raven” and mess with them and their thoughts through certain events that occur in his story. The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is no exception. We get to have access to his general inner thoughts and see how he has his own sort of logic behind his murder. He thought of every single step except for the possible repercussions and the possibility that he may feel guilty about what he did.

In summary the book indeed presents the narrator to the reader as this masterful, calculated killer with an inner struggle. His masterfulness is executed through his quick thinking and his execution of the murder. Secondly, the author writes the narrator as a conscious human, well aware of what he is doing and complexly planning every step. He struggles with knowing the repercussions and the idea that he even murdered the man. It was obvious that this was the way that the author intended the reader to view him. He wanted the reader to view this man as this masterful killer with inner struggles related to his crime.