Why does the narrator believe he will not get caught after murdering the old man in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The mentally unstable narrator initially believes that he will get away with murdering the old man because he carefully plotted and executed the murder without leaving any evidence of his crime. The narrator tells the reader that he exercised great caution during the murder by surprising the unsuspecting old man...

Get
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The mentally unstable narrator initially believes that he will get away with murdering the old man because he carefully plotted and executed the murder without leaving any evidence of his crime. The narrator tells the reader that he exercised great caution during the murder by surprising the unsuspecting old man and meticulously concealing the body. The narrator ends up dismembering the old man's body in the bathtub and hides his limbs and head underneath the floorboards. The narrator also mentions that "no human eye" could detect that anything was wrong and no bloodstains could be found anywhere in his home. When the police officers first arrive, the narrator is confident that he will get away with the murder as he casually walks them through the house and maintains his composure. However, the narrator begins to feel the weight of his crime and becomes anxious while he attempts to carry on a conversation with the policemen. Eventually, the narrator becomes overwhelmed with guilt and, he then believes that the old man's heart is still beating underneath the floorboards. Despite the narrator's precautions and attention to detail, he cannot handle the guilt of his crime and ends up confessing to the murder.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" believes that he will not be caught because he has been so thorough and meticulous in covering up his crime. After killing the old man, the narrator dismembers the body and hides it under the floorboards. He takes great care to make sure that there is no trace of blood or struggle, and he ensures that the floorboards are replaced perfectly such that no one can tell that they have have been moved. When the police arrive to investigate the old man's shriek, the narrator claims that the old man has gone to stay in the country. The narrator is so confident that his crime will not be found out that he brings the policemen to the old man's room and even invites them to sit there while they talk. The narrator is ultimately successful in fooling the police; however, he is so overcome by his own guilt--represented in the story by the sound of the old man's heart--that he confesses to the police.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team