What is the point of view of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

The point of view of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" is that of the murderer, who is telling the story in the first-person perspective.

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Edgar Allan Poe uses first-person narration in his classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart." Readers can easily discern the type of narration by noticing the narrator's use of the personal pronouns "I" and "my" as he tells the story from his point of view. The unnamed narrator attempts to prove his sanity as he recounts the events surrounding his violent crime. As is often the case with Poe's first-person narratives, the context surrounding the narrator is missing, and the reader is not sure where the narrator is located or who he is addressing, which contributes to the ambiguity and vagueness of the story.

Throughout the story, the narrator unsuccessfully tries to convince the reader that he is sane and ironically portrays himself as a mentally unstable, paranoid individual. There are numerous red flags that reveal that the narrator is mentally ill, beginning with his staccato, fragmented style and insistence on his sanity. The reader wonders why a rational person would comment on their sanity and speak in such a nervous, agitated tone.

The narrator also admits that he has supernatural hearing, makes contradicting statements, and is primarily motivated to kill the old man because of his pale blue eye. The narrator attempts to prove his sanity by recalling the caution and foresight he took in executing the seemingly perfect murder. However, the narrator betrays himself when the overwhelming guilt of his crime weighs heavily on his conscience to the point that he confesses to the police. By utilizing first-person narration, Poe psychologically explores the troubled mind of a murderer, and readers are left with a variety of interpretations about the vague, intriguing story.

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"The Tell-Tale Heart" is told from the first-person point of view of the murderer. As he narrates the story, we experience the events as he understands them and wishes to present them. This makes him an unreliable narrator, and this unreliability is reinforced by his stated aim of telling the story to convince the reader he is not insane.

His narration is therefore ironic: while he is trying to convince us of his sanity, the actions he describes are those of an unhinged personality. First, he has a strange obsession with the old man he takes care of. He stalks and spies on him at night, and has a bizarre fixation with what he considers the old man's "vulture" eye. When he kills him, he offers no reasonable explanation.

Second, he becomes strangely convinced after the police arrive, search the house, and believe his story that he can hear the heart of the murdered man beating louder and louder under the floorboards and becomes equally convinced that the police can hear it too. This perception is clearly delusional.

His point-of-view also emerges from a sense of myopia that creates claustrophobia. We are placed very close to the action of the story while being given no context that would help us to make sense of it. Who is the old man? Why is the narrator his caretaker? Where does the story take place? This lack of detail adds to the nightmarish quality of the narrative.

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The point of view of this story is first person objective.  This means that the narrator is a participant in the story and uses the first person pronoun "I."  The "objective" portion of the label refers to the timing of the narration.  An objective narrator relates the events after they have concluded, as opposed to a subjective narrator, who relates events as they occur.  You can tell that the narrator is objective because he uses mostly past tense verbs to describe the action (instead of the present tense verbs used by a subjective narrator).

There are times when the narrator does switch into second person.  For example, he says, "You fancy me mad.  Madmen know nothing.  But you should have seen me.  You should have seen how wisely I proceeded [...]."  This narrator has had time to reflect on his experiences, one of the benefits of an objective narrator, and he is trying to influence our perception of events because he realizes what we might think (i.e. that he is crazy).  His use of the second person pronoun "you" indicates this switch.

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The narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" shares the story from his own, personal perspective; thus the story is told in a first-person point of view. By using personal pronouns such as I, me, and my, the narrator is able to tell his tale as only he can experience it. Any other point of view, like omniscient, for example, would give the audience a look into the minds of other characters in the story, not just the narrator's.

The first-person point of view is what makes this story so chilling. At the beginning of the story, the narrator asserts that he is not "mad" but instead completely sane. As the story progresses, the reader comes to realize that he is truly insane and is therefore an unreliable narrator: his words cannot be trusted. The demented views of this narrator give the audience a disturbing look into the mind of a seriously sadistic person, and adds to the author's overall haunting tone.

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