The Gothic Protagonist – The Tell Tale Heart

1) The narrator was thoughtless and mindful. He says “there was no reason for what I did.” But then he covered it up very miraculously and very carefully. He was also caring and barbaric. He says that “he loved the old man” but then he also mutilated his body and decapitated him.DONE

2) “I heard sounds from heaven and sounds from hell” connotation with death. Is both good and evil. “There was no reason for what I did.” “No reason” has a negative connotation with being unreasonable. It was driven by passion not logic. COULD LINK WITH THE FIRST PARAGRAPH?

3) Obsession with the eye – drives his need to kill. He feels as though the eye is watching him, waiting for him to die and then after he killed the old man he couldn’t stop hearing the heartbeat. Unknowingly the heart beat was his own. The guilt eventually led him to confessing to the truth. Impulsive.

4) The narrator’s gender remains hidden. Personal pronoun is I. Uses the word madman. Lack of character depth. DONE

5) The narrator says “So do you think that I am mad?” several times throughout the text showing his curiosity and need for The curiosity of knowing from other people that he is sane. He continuously asked the reader If they could see how in control he was and how sane he was. The narrator also has a wanting to know surrounding the “vulture eye.” It is kind of like that he wanted to extinguish whatever he believed was hidden behind the eye itself. The narrator compared the mans (victims) eye to a vulture eye, and then stated the characteristics of a vulture and how they tend “to just watch and wait until the animal dies, and then fall upon the dead body and pull it to pieces and eat it.” It is as though the narrators curiosity for the old man’s eye was out of fear of becoming his prey. – he needs reassurance from the reader. He also needs to know/understand the man and the eye. That’s why he watched him for 7 nights. He wasn’t planning on killing the old man that night, it was only because the man woke up and the vulture eye opened. He was frightened of the vulture eye.


In the text ‘The Tell Tale heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator is described to be a “madman” this word is used although throughout the text the narrator’s gender is never revealed. This leaves the opportunity for interpretation from the reader in regards to the gender and reason for the actions the narrator took. Throughout the duration of the text, the narrator wasn’t revealed to us, nor was anything about him other than his behaviourisms that we were able to pick up on. Of which included the narrators need to be reassured  constantly that he was sane. He asked the reader repetitively, “But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad?” This made us as readers have doubt in the narrators sanity entirely, as a sane person does not state that they’re sane. The lack of sanity is one of the few things throughout the text that we can actually decide on ourselves. This causes a further suspicion on who the narrator is and what his intentions truly are. The narrator was also a very contradictory person as many of the slight personality traits presented were often matched with another one that goes completely against it. For example the narrator was thoughtless and mindful. They say “there was no reason for what I did.” But then they covered it up very miraculously and very carefully. This shows us that they didn’t think about their action or the consequences prior to the completion of it, but once the action was done they were able to clean up and design a cover story perfectly fine without any flaws. They were also caring and barbaric. They say that “they loved the old man” but then they also mutilated his body and decapitated him. Both terms contradict each other entirely. Which further adds to the narrator’s lack of sanity.

Throughout the text the narrator frequently refers to the old man’s “vulture eye” and even at one point states that vultures tend “to just watch and wait until the animal dies, and then fall upon the dead body and pull it to pieces and eat it.” This can show us that the narrator has a fear of the old man’s “vulture eye” and has the mentality of being smaller and weaker than the old man himself. The obsession that the narrator has with the eye drives their need and wanting to kill. The night that the narrator murdered the old man, he hadn’t planned the murder out and he wasn’t expecting it to be committed at that time. When the narrator had been watching the old man as he slept he stated that, “Suddenly the old man sat straight up in bed and cried, “Who’s there??!” This caught the narrator was off guard and showed the fear that the old man had. The narrator was frozen in the thought of the “Vulture eye” watching over him, but they state “man. Now I knew that he was sitting up in his bed, filled with fear…” This gave the narrator the mentality of for once being “stronger” as he held the power and the control as he had invoked the fear. The narrator then states “Now he knew that Death was standing there.” This foreshadows that the narrator is there to kill the old man. Once the fear is felt, the narrator begins to unsheath the candle from below the cloth, this allows a soft light to fall on the old man. But once the old man was in view the narrator exclaims “I could not see the old man’s face. Only that eye…” This shows the dehumanising factor that the eye had, the old man was no longer an old man, or even a person. He was just an eye. Just a “hard blue eye.”

Finally, the narrator discusses how “my hearing had become unusually strong?” That they can hear the old man’s heart beat, even after the old man had been slaughtered. A heart that does beat cannot produce sound. But the narrator was certain that the sound was the old man’s heart beat. But unknowing to them, the heart beat was just their own. The heartbeat was at its loudest points when the narrator had a rush of extreme emotion. As in just before the murder was committed the heart beat was loud, because the rush of adrenaline and excitement had made his own heart beat irregularly fast, and in this situation fast enough to hear. Also the same situation happened when the narrator was talking casually with the police in the same room the murder was committed, the same room where the old man lay in pieces below the floorboards. The heart beat in this case, was caused by adrenaline and guilt. This shows us that they felt guilt and remorse, which in someway proves their sanity.

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