He is a case study in madness, tormented by that satanic eye that he simply must destroy.
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 heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.
Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! He had the eye of a vulture - a pale blue eye, with a film over it.
Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees - very gradually - I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. 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. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it - oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so 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. 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.
And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously - oh, so cautiously - 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 - very night just at midnight - 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.
And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spike courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked upon him while he slept.
A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night, had I felt the extent of my own powers - of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there 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 with the thick darkness, for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers, and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.
I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out - 'Who's there? For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; - just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.
Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief - oh, no! I knew the sound well.
Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well.
I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart.In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", we do see a variety of dark themes as are par for the course with Poe, but in particular we see guilt and the question of sanity. Our narrator has this. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a quiet sound.
This, however, did not concern me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length, it stopped. The old man was dead. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Home / Literature / The Tell-Tale Heart / Characters / The Narrator ; In this story the narrator claims that people are driven to murder, and other acts that are destructive to the self and others, due to perverse and uncontrollable impulses.
Most of his works explore this idea to some degree.
Poe suggests the narrator is insane by the narrator's claims of sanity, the narrator's actions bring out the narrative irony of the story, and the narrator is insane according to the definition of insanity as it applies to "The Tell Tale Heart".
Edgar Allan Poe Biography Poe’s Poetry Questions and Answers The Question and Answer section for Poe’s Poetry is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in It is relayed by an unnamed narrator who endeavors to convince the reader of his sanity while simultaneously describing a murder he committed.