In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator considered reliable or unreliable?

In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator is considered unreliable. The narrator insists that he is sane and intends to prove that he is sane, but his motivations and story call his mental state and credibility into question.

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In Poe's celebrated short story "The Tell-Tale Heart," there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that the narrator is unreliable. From the start of the story, the narrator's sanity is called into question when he attempts to convince the reader that he is sane. A mentally stable person would not feel the need to justify or prove his sanity, and the narrator's admission that he has supernatural hearing is quite disturbing. Also, the narrator's syntax is fragmented and staccato, which is indicative of a mentally unstable, neurotic individual and undermines the narrator's argument that he is not mad.

As the story progresses, the narrator continues to provide clear evidence that he is unreliable and deranged. The narrator's reason for killing the defenseless old man is unusual and once again highlights his mental instability. A reliable, rational individual would not claim to love a person and proceed to murder them because of their "Evil Eye." Once the narrator commits the horrible crime,...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1066 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 22, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 14, 2019