In "The Tell-Tale Heart" do you agree to the narrator's perception that the policemen ''knew'' about the murder?''They heard! --they suspected! --they knew! --they were making a mockery of my...

In "The Tell-Tale Heart" do you agree to the narrator's perception that the policemen ''knew'' about the murder?

''They heard! --they suspected! --they knew! --they were making a mockery of my horror!''

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The claim that the cops "knew" comes from a delusional, highly paranoid man who had previously claimed that an old man's eye had evil intents towards him.  He had murdered a man and buried him under the floorboards, and then had the audacity to sit himself right on top of the corpse when they come questioning about the murder.  So, I don't think that I really can take the narrator's word to be reliable.  Doesn't he strike you, throughout the piece, to be a little off?  He starts off by saying that he isn't crazy, which means that someone has accused him of being crazy.  Secondly, in the 2nd paragraph, he goes on about how he had nothing against the old man at all, in fact, he states, "I loved the old man."  And yet, he decides to murder him because he has the "eye of a vulture."  Yes, that's a good reason to kill someone, don't you think?

So, a man who grows absolutely furious at an eye, and fully believes that said eye has malicious intents--it is not out of character to claim that the cops knew what had happened, and that they could too hear the imaginary heart beating.  Besides, just seconds before he was "convinced" they knew, he was also "convinced" they didn't know.  He says,

"The officers were satisfied.  My manner had convinced them."

They are sitting there, chatting with ease.  It is the narrator's own guilt, his own paranoia, and his own disturbed state of mind that prompts his confession, not that the cops knew.

I hope those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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