Analysis of The Tell Tale Heart

220 views 10 pages ~ 2483 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

The narrator of the “The Tell-Tale Heart”

The narrator of the “The Tell-Tale Heart” demonstrates an unreliable and unpredictable character that cannot convince the audience to provide the objective truth of happenings. The narrator portrays fear and behaves calmly in his narration as an attempt to make known his sanity’s evidence. He narrates his affection towards an old man though could not withstand to see him since his eyes were pale, filmy and blue and horrible. Therefore he decided to murder the old man so that he could no longer come to see him in future. Additionally, the accounts of the story are narrated in the first person and hence difficult to determine the truth in the story leading to the unreliable narrator (Clark & Lieber, 2006). The narrator starts the story by explaining his sanity after terminating his friend’s life. Hence, the story demonstrates a psychological portrait of a mad narrator who claims to be in the right condition of mind.

Character of the Narrator

Paranoid and Insane

The Tell Tale Heart provides an exemplary example of unreliable narrator whose behaviors surface evidently in the beginning of the story by claiming and insisting that he has the right state of mind but demonstrates nervousness and over sensitivity. The narrator portrays the state of mind of a psychological person who in his reasoning manifests a sequence of a dream than the thought of a normal human being. The narrator exhibits an emotional instability which tries to convince the audience that he has a problem in making informed decision and sound judgment because in most incidences he responds opposite to reader’s expectations (Dunn, Espinosa & Poe, 2010). The tell-tale heart. Edina, MN: Magic Wagon. The narrator is so worried with old man pale, filmy blue eyes that made him withdraw his affection upon the man and went ahead to contemplate executing him (Poe, 2004). After the narrator murdered his old companion, he felt a sense of accomplishment to his desires. Happiness exudes from within him after prudently killing the old man. The idea entered the narrator’s mind, was conceived in the brain and haunted him every time and eventually went ahead to fulfill it thereby demonstrating insanity in him.


The narrator is aware that his reasoning portrays his insanity hence he illustrates that he cannot be insane instead of being stupid for his goals and that is why he killed the old man with great caution. A week prior to the actual murdering of the old man, the narrator was so kind to him and ensured that every single night he went to the old man room and cautiously shined a lantern on the old man’s eyes. However because the eyes were always closed, the motive of the narrator was to eliminate the eye not the man (Fountain, Poe & Poe, 2004). The narrator never attempted to murder the man. The following morning he could go to the old man’s room and joyfully enquire how the night was to conceal suspicion. The narrator was watchful and demonstrated moderation in his actions which can be illustrated in the manner in which he visited the old man during midnight. The following morning he would go and pretend asking him about his night as a means of hiding his ulterior intension. He was so careful to an extent that the old man could not hear or sense his intrusion in his house.


The narrator showcase pride for perfectly accomplishing the motive. The narrator is cheerful having carried out his goals up to the end and claims that there was no blood at all which could make him wary. He enjoys for having successfully killed the old man in a manner that nobody could unfold to unravel what transpired and who actually killed the man. The narrator feels happy for achieving the desires of his heart perfectly which paints him as a proud gentleman in the story. Moreover his intelligence made him put him interests above other people’s (Gioia & Gwynn, 2006). However, his belief regarding his perfect triumph and arrogance actually amounted to his identification and capture.

Criminal and Cruel

The narrator killed the old man who was first his companion. The action is an indication of criminal activity. After, killing the man, the narrator went ahead to boast for having actualized his mission. Committing murder is a criminal offense and therefore the narrator satisfies to be one. The narrator committed murder deliberately though he came to hate the old man because of his vulture-like eyes. Also, the narrator was cruel since he managed to cut off the old man’s head, legs and hand. The narrator’s ability to manage to take the life of another person is a clear indication that he was cruel and criminal. Taking life is an act that demands extra boldness for any person committing it since people fear being held responsible for a person’s innocent blood.

Feeling of Guilt

The narrator has a feeling of guilt for committing murder. The said feeling of the old man’s heart beating symbolizes internal guilty of the narrator for committing the crime. The sound of the old man heart is heard by the narrator alone and its effects subsequently contributed to the narrator becoming mad. The purse of the old man heart can be understood by the reader as being the narrator’s conscience demanding to be heard and can be argued that the guilt of the narrator resulted in his downfall. The narrator had claimed to be okay and calm but ironically he was defeated by the small noise that equaled the beat of his own heart. Therefore it becomes impossible to confirm that the beating was unusual or otherwise, because of the unreliability of the narrator. The reader can only conclude that the effect of the beat would be based on his own imagination and not the actual sound. Moreover, it can further be explained that when the narrator was under stress he could hear the beat of his heart that he confused with the sound of the old man’s heart (Johnson & Poe, 1954). The narrator’s lack of understanding contributes to unawareness of his actions while communicating with policemen which raises a question on his ability to reason out things like a normal person. The narrator’s guilt has been demonstrated which shows how it contributed to his insanity. The story demonstrates the narrator’s remorse and his inability to accept his state of mind besides his eyes seeing inside the heart and perceiving the old man’s heart beat which led to his madness.


The narrator was able to maintain the top secret of his action and plans. The contemplation of murdering and the motive of how to kill the old man was executed in the utmost secrecy which shows the quality in his ability to maintain confidentiality. Moreover the narrator did not request assistance from anybody illustrating his desire not to disclose the matter to anyone. The narrator’s ability to plan and commit the murder without revealing such a matter wins him the character of being clandestine. Moreover, after the murder, he proceeds to maintain the privacy of his actions. Besides, he behaves in a manner that no one could suspect him of doing any wrong, for instance, when the police visited him after the occurrence, he demonstrated his ability to camouflage in an attempt to conceal the truth of his evil actions.


His character demonstrated nervousness to the old man because he likened his eyes to those of a vulture with pale, filmy, and blue in color. The sight of the old man’s eyes compelled the narrator to ponder about murdering the old man. In addition, he went ahead to withdrawal his love to the man because of his eyes which presents him as a fearful man (Nichols et al., 2011). The nervousness of the narrator contributed to the murdering of the old man since the narrator desired to completely eliminate the sight of the old man in the future.


The narrator has been portrayed as being a hypocrite. He maintained good friendship with the old man while at the same time planning to murder him. Moreover, from the narrative, he has been observed as being the old man’s companion only that he did dislike his pale, filmy, and blue eyes, which actuarily triggered his hatred for the man which shows hypocrisy in his friendship. In addition, the narrator could visit the old man’s room at night and come in the morning pretending to ask the old man about his night. Moreover, when the police went to the narrator’s home, he wanted them to leave his compound but could not disclose it but would rather chat with the police more jovially to conceal his wishes. The narrator can be described as a pretender because his actions portray his hypocrisy as discussed above.


The narrative illustrates that the narrator actually loved the old man. The narrator acknowledges that the old man had never done him any wrong or insulted him and did not desire his money. However, the narrator claims that he was afraid of the old man’s eyes which reminded him of vultures and could not stand the sight of the old man’s eyes, hence he made the decision to terminate the man’s life so that he would never see his eyes anymore (Nichols et al., 2011). Therefore, the narrator loved the man but could not put up with his eyes which spurred his move to killing the old man since he was so astonished by the man’s eyes.


The narrator used to sneak every day at midnight to the old man’s room. The narrator could gently open the door and get inside where he would shine a lantern on the man’s eyes. Even though the old man was asleep, this amounted to harassment by the narrator. He did it carefully to prevent the old man from waking up. Therefore the narrator harassed the old man in an attempt to destroy his eyes which he hated for being pale, filmy, and blue in color reminding him of vultures (Sligy, 1986). The narrator tortured the old man thereby demonstrating that he was a stalker.


The narrator can be described as an intelligent man since after he carefully cut off the head, arms, and the legs of the old man, he went ahead to conceal evidence and create a picture that nothing had actually happened by placing a board on the murder scene so that nobody could afford to notice whether something ahead had gone wrong. The narrator did this to cover the blood which if it was seen could provide evidence of the old man’s murder. Placing the boards on the scene was an indication of the narrator's prudence in his intent to cover his criminal actions. The narrator portrayed intelligence by crafting the idea to cover the old man's body with floorboards.


The narrator lack of suspicious behavior convinces the policemen that nothing wrong had happened. The officers even sat down and had a chat with him. The narrator did not disclose to the police what had occurred to the man. In fact, he told them that the old man was absent from the country. Moreover, the narrator wished that the police could leave because he had a headache coupled by a ringing sound in his ears. He was more agitated as the ringing increased in volume to an extent that he started pacing back and forth but the policemen could not suspect anything from him (Sligy, 1986). The guilt in him kept torturing his innermost feelings to a degree that he was compelled to open up the truth by telling the officers to uncover the floorboards and reveal the beating orchestrated by the old man.

Lonely and Friendless

The narrative provides proof that the narrator lived in the world of friendlessness and loneliness. The only mate to the narrator was the old man whom he killed because of his intimidating eyes. The story demonstrated that the narrator never shared anything with anybody and kept his own secrets. The narratives try to infer that the narrator rarely slept at night which can be seen in the way he used to sneak at midnight to the old man's room. Lack of friends created the feeling of loneliness in the narrator. Moreover, the narrator seemed to be too much affected by the stress after committing the murder but could not share with anyone.


The narrator of the “The Tell-Tale Heart” took the life of his companion after being afraid of his vulture-like eyes. The narrator executed the murder and went ahead to hide the evidence. His behavior haunted him leading to the guilt of his own actions to an extent he eventually opened up to the police on where to find the old man’s corpse whom he had initially lied to that he was not in the country. The narrator had mental problems and was secretive following his action to murder the old man without the knowledge of anyone. Additionally, he demonstrated intelligence for placing the boards over the corpse to conceal the evidence. Moreover, the narrator seemed cruel by cutting off the head, legs, and hand of the old man, coupled with being careful as shown when he would sneak into the old man’s room at midnight. Furthermore, the narrator proves to be a stalker because of harassing the old man at midnight by placing a lantern on his eyes. Also, the narrator was proud since the reading portrays him as having a sense of pride for having successfully carried out a perfect murder. He was a pretender because every morning he would visit the old man and ask how the night had passed yet he had been in the house at night without the old man’s knowledge.


Clark, B. H., & Lieber, M. (2006). Great short stories of the world. World Pub. Co.

Dunn, J. W., Espinosa, R., & Poe, E. A. (2010). The tell-tale heart. Edina, MN: Magic Wagon.

Fountain, B. D., Poe, E. A., & Poe, E. A. (2004). The tell tale heart: stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Austin, TX: Mojo Press.

Gioia, D., & Gwynn, R. S. (2006). The art of the short story. New York: Pearson Longman.

Johnson, C., & Poe, E. A. (1954). Edgar Allan Poes The tell-tale heart. New York: Theatre Press.

Nichols, R., Cypher, J., Nichols, T., Yeager, E., & Poe, E. A. (2011). The tell-tale heart. Newark, DE: Lead Graffiti.

Poe, E. A. (2004). The tell-tale heart. Bantam Classics.

Sligy. (1986). Tell tale heart. Place of publication not identified: Prentice Hall.

Watkins, M., Little, K., Luna, J., Southerland, J., & Williams, P. W. (1990). The tell tale heart: Washington Project for the Arts, March 9-May 5, 1990: Ken Little, James Luna, Judy Southerland, Pat Ward Williams. Washington, D.C.: Washington Project for the Arts.

November 24, 2023

Crime Literature

Number of pages


Number of words




This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro