How does Poe use imagery to describe the narrator in "A Tell-Tale Heart"?

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jfwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although we never get a true physical image of the narrator through direct images (ie, a pointed chin, a high forehead, etc.) the reader nonetheless has some sort of picture of the man constructed from his extreme paranoia. 

One imagines that he is rather a slight man, as he is able to move steathly and without detection, opening the door to old man's room: 

I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep.

At the end of the tale, as the narrator becomes more and more frantic, images of his desperation and nervousness are the overwhelming images.  Without Poe's saying so directly, we can "see" the image of the man as he panics, trembling and sweating and eventually shouting:

They heard!—they suspected!—they knew!—they were making a mockery of my horror!—this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!—

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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