What does the narrator despise about the old man, in The Tell Tale Heart?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Tell Tale Heart, is one of Edgar Allen Poe's most famous works. It is a classic tale of how one man's hidden ugliness, can't stay hidden forever. The narrator of the story is insane. We can clearly see this from the very first lines of the story.

The narrator does not hate the old man. He actually feels sorry for him, and pities him. The narrator has a hidden madness on the inside of him. He tries his best to control it, however he thinks the old man can sense it. The old man has one eye that is blue and looks like it has a veil over it. This sounds like the old man had some kind of eye disease. The narrator believes that, since the old man has the blue eye, he can see the inside of someone's heart. He calls it the evil eye. The narrator didn't want to kill him, but since he thinks the old man can "see" his evil, he has no other choice. For seven nights, the narrator sneaks into the old man's bedroom, at midnight, to spy on him. On the eighth night, as he is planning on killing him, he thinks he can hear the old man's heart beating. He kills the old man and dismembers him, hiding the body parts under his floor. He now thinks that he can be in peace. As you know, the beating of the old man's heart is his undoing. 

The narrator of this story is truly an insane person. Thinking the old man's diseased eye allows him to see inside his own soul, drives him to the edge of insanity. The narrator's own guilt about killing the innocent old man, pushes him to a confession. This is probably one of my favorite stories by Edgar Allen Poe. He shows us how far a guilty conscience can push us. He also shows us how far insanity can ruin our lives.

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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