Is the ending of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" ironic?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely. The narrator makes careful preparations for his murderous act, spending a week peeking into the old man's bedroom each night in order to recognize his sleeping habits. The narrator believes his preparation will result in a perfect crime: He has no reason to kill the old man; he steals none of the man's riches; and there will be no body to be found. But the narrator's precautions fail to cover the single scream by the old man that is heard by a neighbor--a scream that will result in the police investigating the noise. Even with their arrival, the narrator should have been able to sufficiently explain the noise--as he does--but it is his own mental instability that does him in. While he has repeatedly tried to convince the reader of his sanity, it is his own madness that both causes the murder as well as the admission of the evil deed. It is ironic that the murder would never have been proved--if only the narrator's guilty conscience could have prevented him from admitting all to the police.

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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