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What is the narrator telling us about the character and why in these two quotes from...

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Happycoder | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 5, 2013 at 2:59 PM via web

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What is the narrator telling us about the character and why in these two quotes from "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

"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."

"You should have seen how wisely I proceeded-with what caution-with what foresight-with what dissimulation I went to work!"

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mattbuckley | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted October 16, 2013 at 2:16 PM (Answer #2)

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Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a glimpse inside the mind of a murderer as he recounts the tale of his hideous deed. The narrator is telling this tale and attempting to prove to the audience that he is not "mad". He asks the reader to see "how healthily - how calmly [he] can tell you the whole story". He also says that insane people know nothing and have no wits about them. These quotes are an attempt to show to the reader how clever he was in his preparation to his deed. This he feels is sufficient to prove his sanity. He does not realize that these actions, taking an hour to place his head inside the door, show his madness, not his sanity.

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