i wonder what kind of person th narrator is, because he isnt mad. he is, a little. but not so, as a madmen cant be able to calculate a murder in such slow yet intriguing steps. i think he's a man who took pride in what he did, as in th first paragraph it states, "see, how healthily and how calmy, i can tell you the whole story."
A normal human being would be distraught. but he isnt. he thought what he did was right. anyone agree ?
Maybe the narrator is mad precisely for the slow and careful steps. He also keeps telling us, "I'm not mad," which is usually characteristic of someone who doesn't want you to think he is crazy...typically a dead giveaway that he is, indeed, a little nuts.
The narrator in the end gives the officers' chairs which he places directly above the place in the floor where he buried the old man's body. He alone can hear the "beating of his hideous heart" and gives himself up to the police. Some will argue for mere guilt here, but I also vote for "madness" .
He did think what he did was right, but only a mad person would agree that killing someone because of his eye is OK.
However, the beauty of literature and response to it is that there are no wrong answers...only slightly more right ones. If you can dig in the story and support your theory, you may have a decent paper on your hands.
I have to agree with other editors in clearly identifying the narrator of this excellent tale as absolutely mad. This is a theme that he continually returns to himself, making us think that he protesteth too much, methinks. Likewise, the way that the eye of the old man that he kills preys on his imagination and troubles him and the beating of the heart forces him to confess his deed settles the case for me.
So often Poe combines the sociopath with the psychopath, mad, and the compulsively obsessed. This melange of mentalities makes for an interesting mix, to be sure. The narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is of such a concoction. Like the serial killer, he has an explanation--the eye was repugnant to him. Like the obsessed, he has a fixation which drives him to his dastardly deeds:
Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees--very gradually---I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
It seems that it is this obsession with the eye that causes Poe's narrator to commit the deadly acts: "You should have seen how wisely I proceeded." This line and others such as
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions i took for the concealment of the body.
Dispassionately, then, Poe's narrator describes how he has dealth with the body and the appearance of the policemen. This dispassion is not unlike that of one of America's serial killers, the BTK killer, who spoke of his victims as his projects.
I have always found the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" to be quite mad--why else would he continue to try to convince the reader that he isn't, and then describe the beating of the dead man's heart? However, his true state of mind in inconclusive, so it gives the story's various readers something to ponder as they read (or re-read) on.
The fact that the narrator feels the consistent need to tell us that he is not mad CAN, as amy-lepore mentioned, point us as readers in the direction of the narrator's actual madness -- OR it can make us question our OWN sanity. Poe was quite successful at making his readers feel insane (take, for example, the endless repetition of "The Bells...." in the poem of the same name).
It is a possibility for you to approach this topic from a psychological perspective; for example, when a person is lying, he or she usually repeats himself or herself. The first time the person tells the lie, it is relatively believable; the second time, he is trying to convince the AUDIENCE of the lie; and the third time, he is trying to convince HIMSELF of the lie.
There are many ways to approach this topic, but just as dstuva mentioned, there ARE possibilities for wrong answers. Just be encouraged that there are FEWER opportunities to be wrong in an analysis of literature than there are in, say, calculus.
I disagree with the premise by #2 that there are no wrong answers. There are plenty of wrong answers. Conclusions about literature must be based on evidence. If there is no evidence for a conclusion, then the conclusion is wrong. Just because there are often multiple conclusions that can be supported by evidence, does not mean that there are no wrong answers. That's faulty logic. There may be 6 or 8 reasons that can be supported by evidence for Hamlet's delay in Hamlet, for instance, but that doesn't mean there are 100. There are wrong answers.
Concerning Poe's story, you're premise that a mentally ill person cannot produce a murder in slow, calculating steps needs evidence to support it, too. I have to ask--why not? Is there no mental illness that could result in a person being slow, and calculating? That seems hard to believe.