Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" is a short story about how a murderer's conscience overtakes him and whether the narrator is insane or if he suffers from over acuteness of the senses. Poe suggests the narrator is insane by the narrator's claims of sanity, the narrator's actions bring out the narrative irony of the story, and the narrator is insane according to the definition of insanity as it applies to "The Tell Tale Heart".
First, Poe suggests the narrator is insane by his assertions of sanity. For example, the narrator declares because he planned the murder so expertly he could not be insane. He says, "Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen how wisely I proceeded-with what caution-with what foresight-with what dissimulation I went to work!" (74). In addition, every night at midnight the narrator slowly went into the room of the old man. He claims this was done so wisely that he could not be insane. The narrator thinks that if a murder is carefully planned then the murderer is not insane. Also, the narrator claims he suffers from over acuteness of the senses. Regarding the sound of the old man's beating heart, the narrator says, "A
The "Tell Tale Heart" is a story about how insanity can overtake someone's mind and cause one to behave irrationally. He says, "Above all was a sense of !hearing acute. For his gold I had no desire" (Poe 74). Poe suggests the narrator is hearing voices and noises in his mind. Therefore, it is apparent the narrator does not suffer from over acuteness of the senses bu!t instead he is imagining the sounds he hears. As the police officers were sitting and talking in the old man's chamber, the narrator becomes paranoid that the officers suspect him of murder. The narrator says, "I paced the floor to and fro with many strides, as if excited to fury by the observation of the men-but the noise steadily increased. Speaking of the murder, the narrator says, "Object there was none. This is impossible because the body had been dismembered and the man was dead. The narrator claims the old man's eye made his blood run cold and the eye looked as if it belonged to a vulture (74). And now a new anxiety seized me-the sound would be heard by a neighbor"(76). This constitutes a disorder of the narrator's mind. The narrator believes he is justified in killing the old man because the man has an Evil Eye. The narrator believes his actions are actually occurring but it is obvious that the swearing, raging, and throwing of the chair are only taking place in his mind. He says, "But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst.