The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story about a nameless narrator who commits murder. The narrator kills an old man who had a blue vulture-like eye that made the narrator very uncomfortable. He plans the murder, executes it, and hides the body of the old man on the floorboard.
The story falls under the gothic genre (Snodgrass, 2005). The story falls under the gothic category because it is a horror story that tells how a young narrator kills an old man in cold blood and dismembers his body in order to conceal his crime.
The killer claims he is sane and goes into detail to explain how he executed the murder. However, when the police came to the Old Man’s house he gives himself away to the police because he hears the heart of the old man beating behind the floorboard and this incident may suggest that the narrator is in fact insane. The author of the story is Edgar Allan Poe an American author who was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston Massachusetts.
His parents David and Elizabeth died before Poe celebrated his second birthday. After their death, he lived with John and Frances Allan, a childless couple. His childhood was sad, he experienced the death of his loved at a young age, and the deaths influenced his works, which have the theme of grisly deaths (Meyer, 2000). Poe’s s misery and suffering reverberates in his works and in popular culture today long after his death.
Poe’s story is culturally significant as it shows how society was during his time. The people were beginning to have an interest in moral insanity (Bynum, 1989). For instance, it is difficult to tell why the narrator killed the old man at the end of the story was it insanity or plan evil disguised as fear of the pale blue eye? The narrator says that he loved the old man and the man had never wronged him yet he still kills the Old man.
The narrator’s sense of morality seems to be suspended because the brutal killing of the old man does not prick his or her conscience but disturbed by the thought that the police know who has committed the murder and only toying with the narrator’s mind. The story is economically successful even though Poe was not able to reap big economical gains from it and his other works and struggled economically.
The story is underpinned in the popular culture as people try to explain murders in which the perpetrators confess (Bloom, 2002). However, the story is economically successful because it has a large following today and it is still widely read. Moreover, the story has been adapted into a popular culture into various media such as television programs, movies that are widely watched and popular such as The Simpsons.
Lastly, the story reinforces the cultural values of moral insanity as the story tries to explain why some people commit horrendous murders to their beloved ones without a valid cause. In society today, it is common to hear of stories about people killing people close to them for a very funny reason like the prisoner in a jail who killed his cellmate because he heard voices tell him to commit the murder (Burrell, 2001).
The Tell-Tale Heart is still a relevant story today as it shows how human beings can be demented and invokes people to look more into the lives and psychology mind of the people who commit despicable murders.
In our modern world, stories affect our lives every day, but how do the authors of these wonders keep the reader excited and focused? This is when the type of writing called suspense comes along. Suspense is the type of writing skill authors use to give readers uncertainty about the conclusion of the story.
In some stories, the reader may guess the conclusion before they even finish reading the introduction, but when authors add suspense into their masterpieces, the stories become far more interesting and keeps the reader wondering whether if the conclusion of the story would end like they thought it would, and therefore keeps the reader wanting to read more.
The famous writer Edgar Allan Poe is an expert in writing suspense related stories and professionally uses this particular writing style. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is just one of Poe’s many masterpieces that possess the ability to keep the reader of the story reading from the beginning of the story to the end. But what exactly is suspense and how does Edgar Allan Poe use it to manipulate his readers? He used three very powerful tools, foreshadowing, hampering information, and character development. And this is exactly how he applied the three skills into his story.
The author first led suspense into his story right at the beginning. He practically started the story by using foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a very interesting type of literary device. It gives out clues to the reader about the conclusion of the story. Usually, it is the character of the story that gives out the clues but from time to time it may vary.
Because foreshadowing usually comes in at the very beginning, you may not believe what the character tells you because you do not exactly know what kind of person he is, and if the character is some psychopath, obviously you are not going to believe him. Putting foreshadowing at the beginning of a story is an excellent way to start a story because that way it keeps the reader’s attention at the beginning of the story.
During the story, Edgar Allan Poe gave the reader much information and description, but you could tell that he also held back much information. For example, at the beginning of the story, the man told the reader that he loved the old man but hates the eye and believes the eye is evil. Normally the reader would think that all he wants to do is to take out the old man’s eye, but who would have ever known that he was going to kill the old man, for the man never wronged him or given him an insult.
Yet he would kill the old man just so he would not get stared by a fake eye. Also towards the end of the story of the “Tell-Tale Heart”, Edgar Allan Poe wrote, “The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them.” Yet at the very end of the story, he wrote the complete opposite of what he wrote earlier, “They heard! – They suspected! -They Knew!” As you can see, the author created suspense from another perspective. In the story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, Edgar Allan Poe used character development to enforce the suspense in his story.
As the story unfolds, the main character turns out to be a psychopath who doesn’t know what he is talking about. Any reader would know that he is not normal and think he would snap out of it any second. The first time one reads the story one would think that he would stop midway trying to kill the old man and reason with his conscious and eventually get a hold of himself. Because of the crazy character, readers may not exactly believe what he says, and eventually questions his/her self about the foreshadowing.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of how Edgar Allan Poe uses suspense so well in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, and should be able to realize just how well he hid it among all the details. This is how Poe `magically’ drew the reader’s attention without even letting them know. He started out by foreshadowing his story to the readers and let them guess the ending, then slowly plays around with the reader by taking out some details from his story to let the reader guess even more.
And finally, let them wander all over again about everything by letting the reader know the story revolves around an untrustworthy psychopath. As you can see, “The Tell-Tale Heart” truly is a work of wonder, but the real question is how exactly does Poe come up with such an excellent writing style? Well, it is still a mystery to many and shall always be.
The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe, is one of his most famous stories. This story is told from the point of view of the narrator who also happens to be the main character. The story is a personal struggle between the narrator’s thoughts and his actions. The question that the reader ponders until about two-thirds into the story is whether or not the narrator will physically control his hatred of the old man. The reader then bluntly learns the answer to this question and watches the rapid deterioration of the narrator’s state of mind.
Although the narrator tells the reader at the beginning of The Tell-Tale Heart that he is afraid of the old man’s “vulture” eye, the eye really acts as a shadow to his real hatred. He hates the fact that he sees some of his own qualities in the old man; this eventually turns him into a crazed murderer. It becomes evident as early as the second paragraph of the story that the narrator is afraid of the old man’s eye. He says that he can’t remember what made him want to kill the old man, but then he remembers the eye, the “pale blue eye, with a film over it.
This quote seems quite unbelievable because no rational man could kill another man over his eye. This is the exact point in the story where it became evident to me that the “eye” was really just a mask used to hide a deeper reason (series of reasons). One of the guidelines given to us for this assignment was to “trace the theme of fear throughout the story. ” When I tried to use fear as the organizing concept for my paper I realized that it was far too broad.
I began to read the story, again and again, to find a better framework when I realized that the idea of fear was in fact a good organizing theme, although in a rather indirect way. The “quality” that the man sees in the old man is one that he himself has and it is fear. Those seven previous nights that the narrator had spent watching the man sleep may have been a subconscious attempt on the part of the narrator to have the man wake up so that he could see his “eye. ” The narrator’s need to see the old man’s eye was actually a need to see the fear in the old man’s eyes.
The fear that naturally occurs when one is awakened in the middle of the night in his own house by a stranger. Poe may also be trying to convey to the reader that the narrator needs (although eventually proves unable to be) in absolute control of every situation. This becomes evident when he is peeking in on the old man at night without ever getting caught; when he is actually murdering the old man, and assuring both himself and the reader that he is doing a perfect job of disposing of the man and of not leaving any evidence at the crime scene, and when he is speaking to the police calmly and even cockily.
This generalized fear that the narrator has in his life is of the same order as that of the old man when he heard the narrator in his room. When the narrator went into the old man’s room on the eighth night, it was different. This time, he actually made a noise. The story describes it as a slight slip of his hand on the lantern that disturbs the old man and awakens him from his slumber. What I think really happened is that the killer wanted to wake the man up so that he could see his eye and feel, and rejoice, in his victim’s terror. The killer needed to have the old man wake up for his control over him to be complete.
This was the reason behind the narrator’s “slip up. ” The old man’s eye seems to have been both a mirror of and a window into the narrator’s own irrational rage that had been building up for so long. Killing the old man was in a way an act of liberating himself from something that he truly hated, something that he saw in himself, a man with true and totally irrational fear. In conclusion, I believe that Poe did in fact use the narrator’s obvious hatred of the “eye” as a metaphor for many deep and subtle ways of a sick mind’s self-hate.
The killer’s cracking up before the detectives shows that his conscience still worked despite the depth of his self-destructiveness and madness. The detectives are almost like props in his own “game” with himself. ) This story is relevant even today, showing how people try to push away people who have the same negative traits that they have but try to suppress. Most of the time people use reasonable measures to stay away from these “doubles” of themselves, but in some very extreme cases, as seen here, murder may even come into play.
“True!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?”
“…Now, this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.”
It is impossible to say how the idea of murdering the old man first entered the mind of the narrator. There was no real motive as stated by the narrator: “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me….For his gold, I had no desire. I think that it was his eye!”
The narrator states that one of the old man’s eyes was a pale blue color with a film over it, which resembled the eye of a vulture. Just the sight of that eye made the narrator’s blood run cold, and as a result, the eye (and with it the old man) must be destroyed.
Every night at midnight, the narrator went to the old man’s room. Carefully, he turned the latch to the door and opened it without making a sound. When a sufficient opening had been made, a covered lantern was thrust inside. “I undid the lantern cautiously…(for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights…but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.”
The old man suspected nothing. During the day, the narrator continued to perform his usual duties, and even dared to ask each morning how the old man had passed the night; however, at midnight, the nightly ritual continued.
Upon the eighth night, the narrator proceeded to the old man’s room as usual; however, on this night, something was different. “Never before that night had I felt the extent of my powers–of my sagacity….To think that I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch…so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door….I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening…the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–who’s there?’”
The narrator kept quiet and did not move for an entire hour. The old man did not lie back down; he was sitting up. Even in that darkness, “I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise….His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not.”
“When I had waited a long time, very patiently…I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of a spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.”
The eye was wide open. “I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones….[N]othing else of the old man’s face or person [could be seen].”
“And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?” For at that moment, the narrator heard the sound such as a watch would make when it is enveloped in cotton. “I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart….It increased my fury….But even yet I refrained and kept still.” The heartbeat grew “…quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme.”
The time had come. “With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room.” The old man shrieked once. The narrator “…dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him.” He did not die at once, but in a short time, the hideous heartbeat stopped; then the narrator removed the bed and examined the body. “I placed my hand upon [his] heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.”
Next came the concealment of the body. The narrator dismembered the corpse by cutting off the head, the arms, and the legs. Three planks were removed from the floor of the chamber to deposit the remains of what once had been a harmless, elderly man. The boards were replaced so carefully that no one would have been able to detect any wrongdoing or foul play. There was no mess or blood stains to clean up; the narrator had cut up the body in a tub.
It was 4 A.M. by the time this ghastly deed had been completed. A knocking was heard at the door, and when the narrator answered it, he found three men who quickly introduced themselves “…as officers of the police.” They told the narrator that a neighbor had reported hearing a shriek in the night and that they were there conducting an investigation to make sure that no foul play had occurred.
“I smiled–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country.” The narrator escorted the officers as they searched the premises. Nothing was disturbed; everything was in order, even in the old man’s room. The narrator brought in chairs and insisted that the officers “…rest from their fatigues….” The narrator brought in another chair, and placed it upon “…the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.”
They sat and chatted at ease, while the narrator pleasantly answered their questions. However, the narrator soon wished them to be gone. “…I felt myself getting pale….My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears….The ringing became more distinct; I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling, but it continued…until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears….It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.”
The narrator gasped for breath, and spoke: “…more quickly–more vehemently.” The sound steadily increased, yet the officers made no notice. The narrator “…arose and argued about trifles, in a high key, and with violent gesticulations. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor…with heavy strides….Oh, what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased.” Was it possible that the officers did not hear the sound? “No, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!….I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!” All the while the sound grew “louder! louder! louder! louder!”
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks!–here, here!–it is the beating of his hideous heart!”
The story covers a period of approximately eight days with most of the important action occurring each night around midnight. The location is the home of an elderly man in which the narrator has become a caretaker.
This story contains a nameless narrator, an old man, and the police who enter near the end of the story after the mention, that they were called by a neighbor whose suspicions had been aroused upon hearing a scream in the night. The protagonist or narrator becomes the true focus of the tale. This narrator may be male or female because Poe uses only “I” and “me” in reference to this character. Most readers assume that the narrator is a male because of a male author using a first-person point of view; however, this story can also be plausible when the deranged protagonist appears as a woman.
Most critics would argue this point by saying that Poe would “assume” that the reader would “know” that the protagonist was male, therefore, he would see no need to identify his sexless narrator. However, Poe was a perfectionist who left very little to guesswork. Could it be that this was no accident or something that he thought would be universally understood, but that Poe was creating a story whose impact could be changed simply by imagining this horrendous and vile deed being committed by a woman?
Point of View
Poe writes this story from the perspective of the murderer of the old man. When an author creates a situation where the protagonist tells a personal account, the overall impact of the story is heightened. The narrator, in this particular story, adds to the overall effect of horror by continually stressing to the reader that he or she is not mad, and tries to convince us of that fact by how carefully this brutal crime was planned and executed.
Style and Interpretation
Poe’s story is a case of domestic violence that occurs as a result of irrational fear. To the narrator that fear is represented by the old man’s eye. Through the narrator, Poe describes this eye as being pale blue with a film over it and resembling that of a vulture. Does the narrator have any reason to fear the old man or his eye? Is it this phobia that evokes the dark side, and eventually drives the narrator to madness? Or could Poe be referring to a belief whose origins could be traced back to Greece and Rome?
The belief in the evil eye dates back to ancient times, and even today is fairly common in India and the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. References are made to it in Jewish, Islamic, Buddist and Hindu faiths. The belief centers around the idea that those who possess the evil eye have the power to harm people or their possessions by merely looking at them. Wherever this belief exists, it is common to assign the evil eye as the cause of unexplainable illnesses and misfortunes of any kind.
To protect oneself from the power of the eye, certain measures can be taken. In Muslim areas, the color blue is painted on the shutters of the houses and found on beads worn by both children and animals. There is also a specific hand gesture named the “Hand of Fatima,” named after the daughter of Mohammed. This name is also given to an amulet in the shape of a hand that is worn around the neck for protection.
In some locations, certain phrases, such as ” as God will” or “God bless it” are uttered to protect the individual from harm. In extreme cases, the eye, whether voluntarily or not, must be destroyed. One Slavic folktale relates the story of the father who blinded himself for fear of harming his own children with his evil eye.
Would Poe have had knowledge of this rather strange belief? It is altogether possible that he would have, which creates another interesting twist to this story. Maybe the narrator who tries to convince us that madness is not really the issue is telling the truth. Maybe this vile act is necessary in order to destroy the power of the old man’s evil eye!
Human nature is a delicate balance of light and dark or good and evil. Most of the time this precarious balance is maintained; however, when there is a shift, for whatever reason, the dark or perverse side surfaces. How and why this “dark side” emerges differs from person to person. What may push one individual “over the edge” will only cause a raised eyebrow in another. In this case, it is the “vulture eye” of the old man that makes the narrator’s blood run cold. It is this irrational fear which evokes the dark side and eventually leads to murder.
The narrator plans, executes, and conceals the crime; however, “[w]hat has been hidden within the self will not stay concealed….” (Silverman 208) The narrator speaks of an illness that has heightened the senses: “Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell.” The narrator repeatedly insists that he(she) is not mad; however, the reader soon realizes that the fear of the vulture eye has consumed the narrator, who has now become a victim to the madness which he had hoped to elude.
Example #5 – Character Analysis Tell-Tale Heart
The short story can produce many different “types” of characters. Usually, these characters are faced with situations that give us an insight into their true “character”. In the Tell-Tale Heart, a short story written by Edgar Allen Poe, the narrator of the story is faced with fear. He is afraid of the Old Man’s Eye. The actions that this narrator performs in order to quell his fear can lead others to believe that he suffers from some sort of mental illness.
The very fact that this narrator is so repulsed by the old man’s eye, which he refers to as “the evil eye”, is reason enough to be suspicious of his character. The narrator has an inner struggle with the thought that “the evil eye” is watching him and an underlying feeling that “the evil eye” will see the real person that he has become. This paranoia leads the narrator to believe that the only way he can put down his fears is to kill the old man.
It is said that denial is usually the sign of a problem. If this holds true, then the narrator has the characteristics of a “madman”. In the first paragraph, he asks, “but why will you say that I am mad!” (Kennedy & Gioia, 34) This statement can be looked upon as a statement made by someone going through a paranoid episode.
He talks as if he is in a frenzy, especially when he talks about hearing things in heaven and in hell. “The disease had sharpened my senses? Above all was the sense of hearing acute. Did I hear all things in heaven? I heard many things in hell.” (Kennedy & Gioia, 34) The “disease” that the narrator is talking about eats away at his conscience until “[I] made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.” (Kennedy & Gioia, 34)
The progression of the story revolves around the actions of the narrator. He describes the “wise” ways in which he prepares himself to commit this deed. The way the narrator “stalks” the old man the whole week before he kills him can be evidence of a problem.
Every night he would watch the old man sleep. He found comfort in knowing that the eye was not watching him, that it could not see the true evil within his soul. While the eye was closed, so was the idea of killing the old man. It is not until the old man awakens each day that the struggle within is apparent. This may be the reason why the narrator is so obsessed with watching the old man sleep.
The actual act of murder, which the narrator believes was premeditated, was in fact a spur of the moment action. He toiled with the idea while the man was awake, that is, while he could see the “evil eye”. However, while the eye was closed, the narrator was at peace.
One night, during one of the narrator’s “stalking” sessions, the old man awakens. The narrator goes into a paranoid frenzy, mistaking the beating of his heart for the beating of the old man’s heart. During this frenzy, the narrator is afraid that neighbors will hear the beating of the man’s heart. This causes the narrator to take action. He quickly subdues the old man and kills him.
He then takes extreme steps in disposing of the body, dismembering it and burying it under the planks in the floorboard. These extreme actions can be used as evidence of the paranoia that is taking shape. The fear of getting caught would be a normal reaction to someone who has committed a murder. However, the dismemberment of the body was not necessary since the narrator had ample resources to dispose of the body properly.
When the police arrive at the house, the narrator is sure that he has nothing to fear. He lets them into the house and bids them search wherever they like. He leads them into the room where the body is buried and invites them to sit down. Although he fears nothing consciously, the narrator battles with his conscience subconsciously. He begins to feel uneasy when the officers start talking to him.
The paranoia begins to build steadily and before long, the narrator hears the beating of his heart, which he again mistakes for the beating of the corpse’s heart. This implication gives further evidence of the paranoid nature of the narrator. The beating grows louder to him and, since it is his heart beating, the officers could not hear it.
This made the narrator even uneasier since he could not understand why they could not hear it as well. A short while later and after a rabid inner struggle, the narrator, in a fit of rage, admits to his crime, believing that the police officer was aware of what he had done. This is the pinnacle of his paranoid state. The idea that the officers were just toying with him, that they knew all along that he had murdered, presents a clear case of paranoid psychosis.
Despite the narrator’s cunning plan of how to commit the murder and how to dispose of the body, his own sub-conscience becomes his undoing. The sound of the old man’s heartbeat continues to taunt the narrator and his reaction to his subconscious thoughts causes him to admit his crime to the police.
The Tell-Tale Heart is a story that is about a man that kills a person because of his fear of eye color, he always sees him in the night, when he was going to kill him he wake up and start cry but the narrator he stops and he waits for the perfect moment to kill him when he kills him he butchered him but when the police came to the house, he blamed himself. At the beginning of the story, he said that he is not crazy. The grandfather and his little grandson are about a grandfather Once upon a time there was a very old man who lived with his son and daughter-in-law.
The man was so old that his hearing and sight had diminished. His hands trembled when he tried to eat. The old man would sit in the corner with tears in his eyes trying to eat his food, with trembling hands. One day he dropped his bowl and it broke on the floor. The wife scolded him and they gave him a wooden dish to eat out of instead. One night, they were sitting together and the four-year-old grandson began to gather together some bits of wood. His parents asked him what he was doing. The little boy told his parents that he was making a trough for them to eat out when his parents are old. The man and his wife were crying.
The Tell-Tale Heart and the grandfather and his little grandson one of the similarities are that they are treated badly, Both have mental problems. In the story of the Tell-Tale Heart, the protagonist has paranoia and mental deterioration, the murderer’s obsession with specific and unadorned entities: the old man’s eye and the heartbeat. In the story The grandfather and his little grandson have mental problems, his hands trembled when he tried to eat and that is a mental problem. The Tell-Tale Heart and The grandfather and his little grandson differences are that the protagonist is treated very badly and in the Tell-Tale Heart they treated him normally.
Another difference is that in The Tell-Tale Heart the protagonist murder someone and in the grandfather and his little grandson he doesn’t kill anyone. The protagonist of The Tell-Tale Heart has a fear of eye color but in The grandfather and his little grandson, he doesn’t have any fear. Another is the place where it develops the story is different. In conclusion, we can say that The Tell-Tale Heart and The grandfather and his little grandson have differences and similarities like one similarity that both have a mental disability and one difference is that in The Tell-Tale Heart he murder someone and in The grandfather and his little grandson he doesn’t kill anyone.
Example #7 – The Point of View of The Tell-Tale Heart
The Point of View of The Tell-Tale Heart Poe writes “The Tell-Tale Heart” from the perspective of the murderer of the old man. When an author creates a situation where the central character tells his own account, the overall impact of the story is heightened. The narrator, in this story, adds to the overall effect of horror by continually stressing to the reader that he or she is not mad, and tries to convince us of that fact by how carefully this brutal crime was planned and executed.
The point of view of the narrator helps communicate that the theme is madness to the audience because from the beginning the narrator uses repetition, metaphors, and irony.”True!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?” (Literature 37) “…Now, this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me.” (Literature 37)
As you can see the narrator is clearly mad because this story is told in the first person it helps you understand the character even better because we are seeing what exactly is happening to him moment by moment. It helps us understand what is going on in his head because we are getting to know him throughout the story.
The repetition in this story is phenomenal. He uses it constantly, adding to the madness of this man. “And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly –very, very slowly so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep.” (Literature 37) He is insane and losing it every moment of the story, repeating words and using disturbing metaphors and similes. He compares many things such as referring to the eye of the old man as the “evil eye”, and “eye of a vulture”. All the while doing this, the narrator believes that he is normal and is not insane.
The purpose of the figurative language used in this story is to coincide with helping the 1st person point of view. “Ha! Would a madman have been so wise as this,”?(Literature 37) “It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed”.(Literature 37)
This story is basically a big exaggeration of madness, showing the actions and feelings of the narrator. The narrator helps us by using all these big exaggerations to understand how he has lost his mind and is going to commit murder. The narrator repeatedly insists that he is not mad; however, the reader soon realizes that the fear of the vulture eye has consumed the narrator, who by this point in the story has become a victim to the madness which he had hoped to elude. Without all the figurative language it would be hard to see that the theme of this story, being madness, is all possible due to the point of view being in the first person.
We see that the character never changed, but by the end of the story, the narrator finally realizes that what he was trying to convince himself of was completely false. For his madness, he revealed in the beginning only gets the best of him in the end.