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Driven mad by the idea that they are mocking his agony with their pleasant chatter, he confesses to the crime and shrieks at the men to rip up the floorboards. Even Poe himself, like the beating heart, is complicit in the plot to catch the narrator in his evil game.

The Tell-Tale Heart

As a study in paranoia, this story illuminates the psychological contradictions that contribute to a murderous profile. For example, the narrator admits, in the first sentence, to being dreadfully nervous, yet he is unable to comprehend why he should be thought mad. He articulates his self-defense against madness in terms of heightened sensory capacity.

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This special knowledge enables the narrator to tell this tale in a precise and complete manner, and he uses the stylistic tools of narration for the purposes of his own sanity plea. However, what makes this narrator mad—and most unlike Poe—is that he fails to comprehend the coupling of narrative form and content. He masters precise form, but he unwittingly lays out a tale of murder that betrays the madness he wants to deny.

Poe explores here a psychological mystery—that people sometimes harm those whom they love or need in their lives. Poe examines this paradox half a century before Sigmund Freud made it a leading concept in his theories of the mind. The narrator thus eliminates motives that might normally inspire such a violent murder. He reduces the old man to the pale blue of his eye in obsessive fashion.


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The narrator sees the eye as completely separate from the man, and as a result, he is capable of murdering him while maintaining that he loves him. By dismembering his victim, the narrator further deprives the old man of his humanity. Character List Roderick Usher C. Themes Motifs Symbols Key Facts. Important Quotations Explained.

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Page 1 Page 2. Summary An unnamed narrator opens the story by addressing the reader and claiming that he is nervous but not mad.

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Edgar Allan Poe - The Tell Tale Heart with subtitles (Read by Christopher Lee)

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The Tell-Tale Heart (By Edgar Allan Poe)

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