Is the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" death?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The narrator of Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," is not death. Actually, the tale is told using a first-person narrative voice. The narrator, who remains unnamed, is telling readers about a point in his life where his obsession with an eye causes him to commit murder.

The easiest way to define a narrative voice is to examine the use of pronouns within the text. Here are some examples of pronouns used to define the point-of-view within a text.

First-Person Pronouns: I, we, us

Second-Person Pronouns: you and your

Third-Person Pronouns: he, she, they, them, or using a proper noun (like a name) to tell the story of another person

In regards to this story, the first sentence of the story sets up the narrative voice:

TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?

Here, the use of "I" defines the narrator as the one telling his/her own story. The use of "you" defines it as a story being told to the reader.


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