Much of the effectiveness of Edgar Allan Poe's 1843 short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," is a result of the many examples of irony in the story.
It is ironic, first of all, that the narrator goes to great lengths to convince the reader of his sanity while providing increasing evidence of his murderous, unreasoning insanity. The narrator attempts to justify his behavior by blaming it on "the disease" that sharpened his senses, causes him to become obsessed with the old man's "evil eye" and drives him to kill the old man "and thus rid myself of the eye forever."
Further irony occurs when the narrator, with his newly acquired acute sense of hearing, hears the "death watch" beetles in the walls. The sound of the beetles, which is symbolic of quiet, sleepless nights and a harbinger of death, is juxtaposed with the beating of the old man's heart, "a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton."
In the narrator's crazed imagination, the beating of the old man's heart grows...
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