Protagonist in Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Subject: Literature
Pages: 4
Words: 938
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

Thesis: Focusing on the details of the narrator’s emotional state and feelings, Edgar Allan Poe draws the readers’ attention not to the aspect of the man’s guilt, but to the peculiarities of the narrator’s psychological illness and his impossibility to perceive reality objectively. Thus, the narrator suffers from a mental disease that he refuses to admit and explains to the readers and himself with his acute senses.

In only 3 hours we’ll deliver a custom Protagonist in Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” essay written 100% from scratch Get help

The Gothic literature of the nineteenth century is characterized by providing a lot of mysterious protagonists, shocking details, and terrifying elements. Edgar Allan Poe is considered as one of the most famous Gothic authors of that period whose works always attract the readers’ attention because of their atmosphere of horror and enigma. Following his tradition to present interesting characters and mystifying plots, Poe wrote the short story known as “The Tell-Tale Heart” in 1842. The main character of the story is an unnamed murderer who killed an old man, but while narrating his story, the protagonist states that he is not mad.

Focusing on the details of the narrator’s emotional state and feelings, Edgar Allan Poe draws the readers’ attention not to the aspect of the man’s guilt, but to the peculiarities of the narrator’s psychological illness and his impossibility to perceive reality objectively. Thus, the narrator suffers from a mental disease that he refuses to admit and explains to the readers and himself with his acute senses. That is why it is important to analyze the features of depicting the character of the short story according to the psychological approach.

Psychological peculiarities of the narrator

In his short story, Edgar Allan Poe accentuates a lot of details that can persuade the readers that the main character is ill, but he is not aware of the fact. The story begins with the phrase, “True! – Nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am! but why will you say that I am mad?” (Poe 3). Three words are interesting in this character’s exclamation. The narrator focuses on the fact of the truthfulness of his words, his nervousness, and his sanity. Moreover, his nervousness can explain his strange actions about which he tells the readers later.

It seems that the narrator is aware of the fact that people cannot believe him and in his sanity because of his committing a murder. That is why he insistently reminds us that he is nervous and his senses are acute. “And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the sense?” (Poe 5). The character’s refusal of his madness can be discussed as typical for people with mental illnesses. Furthermore, explaining the details of the preparation for the murder and its realization with dismembering of the old man’s body, the narrator draws the readers’ attention to the fact of his rationality which cannot be typical for mad persons. However, it is obvious that his actions are not common and are influenced by severe mental disorders.

Motives for the murder

To explain the motives for the murder, the narrator does not concentrate on the material objects or conflicts, but tells about the old man with accentuating that “object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man” (Poe 3). The fact that the main character loved the old man contradicts the fact of his order. Thus, the narrator explains his desire by mentioning the man’s eye. “He had the eye of a vulture – a pale blue eye, with a film over it” and moreover, “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe 3).

The symptoms of paranoia

These narrator’s statements can be considered as presenting the symptoms of paranoia. The main character was negatively influenced by his perception of the man’s eye, and this fact could explain his nervousness. The only way to get rid of the annoyer was to kill the man.

Academic experts
available
We will write a custom Literature essay specifically for you for only $16.00 $11/page Learn more

The next symptom of paranoia was the character’s hallucinations associated with the old man’s heart beating. The narrator decided to murder the old man when he could not bear the sound of his heart beating anymore. “It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage” (Poe 5). Moreover, the character confessed his guilt when he thought he heard the killed man’s heart beating. The hallucinations and paranoiac ideas are common for people who suffer from mental diseases, but they can reject this fact.

“The Tell-Tale Heart” which is written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1842 is a remarkable example of Gothic literature in which the author concentrates on the depiction of the psychological disorders which can explain the persons’ different strange behaviors. The main character of the short story does not want to admit the fact that he can be considered ill because he is not aware of his disease. Moreover, he accentuates the possibility of considering him as mad, but according to his words, it is not true.

However, Edgar Allan Poe draws the readers’ attention to the elements which can be discussed as rather ambiguous, but they indirectly prove the readers’ possible opinions on the character’s insanity and paranoia. Presenting the story of the murder, the author of “The Tell-Tale Heart” focuses on the depiction of the murderer’s feelings and emotions before, during, and after the murder, but not on its peculiar details. It is more interesting for the author to present the psychological type of the killer which can terrify the readers with his insanity.

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings. USA: Perfection Learning, 2001. Print.