The Tell Tale Heart and Edgar Allan Poe’s Schizophrenia

Essay add: 2-06-2016, 16:22   /   Views: 312
The Tell Tale Heart and Edgar Allan Poe’s Schizophrenia

Edgar Allan Poe is acknowledged today as one of the most brilliant and original writers in American literature. His skillfully wrought tales and poems convey with passionate intensity the mysterious, dreamlike, and often macabre forces that pervaded his sensibility. He is also considered the father of the modern detective story.

The Tell Tale Heart is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator remains nameless and sexless in the story. H/she takes care of an old man with whom the relationship is unclear. At the beginning of the story, the narrator says that he loved the old man but he hates his eye and h/she believes that the eye is evil. H/she confesses that the one and only reason for killing the old man is his eye: "Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees - I made up my mind to take the life of the old man". The narrator begins the story by trying to convince the reader that h/she is not insane. The fact that the old man's eye is the only motivation to murder proves the narrator is mentally unstable.

For seven nights precisely at midnight, the narrator enters the old man's room to observe the eye. On the eighth night the narrator enters the room and the old man sat suddenly in his bed, crying out "who's there?" the narrator stood still for over an hour, as did the old man who did not lie back down. Then h/she opened the lantern slightly and the ray was on the eye only. This made the narrator go furious and he moved to the old man who shrieked once, he/she dragged him off his bed and killed him. The old man's body was chopped and buried under the planks of the floor. The police came because of a shriek reported by a neighbor. H/she invited them and they sat chatting, after a while the narrator started hearing the old man's heart beating from under the flooring. The heart beat grew louder and louder, finally h/she confesses of killing the old man.

At the beginning of the story the narrator asks the reader if they think of him mad: "I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?" the more h/she keeps asking the more the reader is convinced that h/she is mentally unstable. The narrator says in the story that he observes the old man every night precisely at midnight. At midnight most people are asleep and while people are sleeping their unconsciousness takes over them. The old man's eye might be the narrator, for when h/she describes the feelings of the old man as if they are h/her feelings. The old man's room represents the unconsciousness because its face is imagined as something dark and unfamiliar to humans: "His room was as black as pitch with thick darkness". The narrator says in the story that he knew that the old man was scared, it is not possible for h/her to know the feeling of the old man unless it was h/her: "It was not a groan of pain, or grief - oh, no! - it was the low, stifled sound that arise from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well". H/she enters the room and opened the lantern, the ray was on the old man's eye only. H/she can clearly see the eye now. So the old man's room is the unconsciousness and there should be a wall between the unconsciousness and the consciousness, when h/she enters the room the wall is broken, h/she saw the h/her other self clearly. The narrator says that he can hear the old man's heart beat clearly, which is impossible, it was his own heart beating: "Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker, and louder and louder every instant".

Then the narrator describes the murder where h/she says that he yelled and the old man shrieked once only: "He shrieked once - once only". Then h/she drags his body. The police came later on, they say to h/her that h/her neighbor heard a shriek: "A shrike had been heard by a neighbor during the night". This means that it was the narrator's shriek because it was heard only once. If it was both the old man and the narrator's it wouldn't be just one shriek which proves again it's only the narrator. H/she is with the officers when h/she starts to imagine hearing voices coming from under the bed where he buried the old man. If there is a voice the officers would've heard it too but they did not hear it, this means that it is all in the narrator's head. H/she is uncomfortable and starts swinging the chairs. H/she say that h/her nervousness was very obvious but the officers did not notice h/her which is impossible and this means that the officers are just the creation of his imagination. The whole thing was just in the narrator head and none of it is true.

The narrator is suffering from schizophrenia which is proved in the context of the story.

Schizophrenia is a humorous brain disorder characterized by delusional thinking and unique but unpopular perceptions. The old man's eye is the mirror of the narrator and h/she did not like the other self. H/she decides to end his fear by getting rid of the old man's eye and to get rid of the eye h/she has to enter the world of unconsciousness.[/b]

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