The Tell-Tale Heart: A Tale Of Struggle With Mental Health

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Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary writers, and there is no doubt that he is one of the icons of the police genre and horror stories. He was born and died in the nineteenth century, and surprisingly, published his only novel in 1838, for the rest, he remained a journalist and writer of short stories.

This time we’re going to analyze one of Poe's short stories that despite its clean and perfect narrative that seems linear and simple, for many, it is full of symbolism towards life as well as towards the internal conflicts of a man: The Tell-Tale Heart.

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This story narrates the way in which the protagonist becomes a murderer, affirming that he is not crazy, because a person with little mental health wouldn’t have planned and executed a plan as perfect as his, taking care of every detail. The protagonist prepares to assassinate an old man with whom he lived, and at the end of the story, he ends up confessing his crime to the police. What is the magic of this work written by Poe? Besides the active conflict within the protagonist's mind about whether they should consider him crazy or not, the short story has aspects that invite us to analyze and find analogies everywhere. Next, we will present what these aspects are, and what have been the criticisms that other people have offered about this magnificent work.

Argument of the Story

Before immersing ourselves in the symbology of the story, we must bring up what The Tell-Tale Heart is about. Written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1843, tells a man who tries to prove his supposedly sound judgment by giving details of how he planned and committed the murder of an old man with whom he lived. And confessing in a sinister and detailed manner all the reasons that led him to become a homicide. The narrator insists from the first moment that he is a normal person, although his senses are very acute. The old man with whom he lives has an eye veiled by a pale blue film, like the eyes of vultures. This causes anxiety in the narrator, to the point that one day he decides to kill him. He insists on the care he puts on and the precision of his actions, for example, in watching the old man sleep through a crack in the door. A day that discovers the open eye, he decides and chokes it with his own pillow. Then he tears up the body and hides it under the floor; finally, erase all traces. The police will come at the request of neighbors who have heard noises. The murderer invites them, confident, shows them the house and leads them to the room under which lies the dismembered corpse. Soon he seems to hear a noise that is growing. When he thinks horrified that it is the heart of the old man who is giving him away, he collapses and confesses, loudly asking the policemen to raise the floorboards.

The story begins at the end. The principle seems like a conversation with one or several people, and it has been speculated that the narrator is confessing to a guardian, a judge, a journalist or a doctor or psychiatrist. This may be so because of the need to explain the narrator in detail. What follows is a study of terror, but, more specifically, the memory of it, since the narrator tells of past events.

This preamble also serves to immediately capture the reader's attention about what is being told. From this point, as was proper in Poe, each word is focused on the advance of the story, which makes this story short possibly the best reflection of the author's theories about what a perfect story should be. The engine of the story is the narrator's insistence, not on his innocence (which would be normal) but on his sanity. But this reveals a self-destructive drive since it’s pretending to demonstrate sanity through guilt in the crime. His denial of madness is based, above all, on the systematic nature of his homicidal behavior, on his precision and on the rational explanation of irrational behavior. Thus, the final scene is nothing more than the result of the character's guilt. Like many other characters in traditional macabre literature, passions dictate their nature.

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