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The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe

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The reliability of the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe

Summary:

The narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" is unreliable. His insistence on his sanity, despite describing his irrational obsession and the murder he commits, highlights his unstable mental state. His delusions and hallucinations, particularly hearing the old man's heartbeat after his death, further undermine his credibility.

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Why does Poe use an unreliable, first-person narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

What seems to be most important about Poe's choice of a first-person narrator that is unreliable and a participant in "The Tell-Tale Heart" is his ability to convey the very thing the speaker denies is true: his insanity. Ironically, only the speaker is able to so clearly convey his failure to grasp reality, as the reader tries to follow his flawed and erratic reasoning. 

The dramatic monologue begins with the unnamed (and highly unreliable) first-person narrator issuing a challenge of sorts...

The narrator wants to set the record straight, and the challenge must be in response to someone listening (in a jail or a mental institution) who has intimated that the speaker is crazy. Rather than insanity, the narrator tries to say he is simply nervous:

TRUE!—NERVOUS—VERY, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed—not dulled them. 

In the introduction, the speaker acknowledges that he has a disease, but tries to explain that it is not a malady, but something with desirable results—that his senses are excellent rather than diminished. He speaks about his heightened sense of hearing:

I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell.

This seems a clear indication that he has lost his mind, for who hears things in heaven and/or hell? It is his sense of acute hearing (its foundation found in his madness) that foreshadows the story's conclusion. With these kinds of details, the reader cannot help but arrive at a conclusion that the speaker is truly insane.

When searching his mind for motive, the speaker mentions all the positive things about the man that he is clearly aware of—things that seemingly might convince another to kill or not kill the man—but things that do not move him:

Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.

He explains that all the rational motivations for murder (insult, greed, etc.) do not generate a desire within him to cause harm—in fact, he has no reason to do so. Neither does he have a passionate disposition that might drive him to an emotional and/or mental brink to bring on a break with reality or sanity. Instead, he notes that the old man's eye is the reason the narrator decides to plan the murder of the man who has been so kind and good. What a completely irrational statement.

I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! 

Try as he or she might, the reader cannot follow this thread of reasoning because it is not based in rational thought, although he or she may try very hard to do so:

...the reader feels compelled to try to understand the method and meaning of the madness.

The dialogue that the speaker provides throughout the story allows the reader (while attempting to follow his skewed mental reasoning) to be convinced of the speaker's mental break. The details become horrific and the suspense rises as the speaker's panic becomes almost tangible. Rather than convincing the reader of his hold on reality, the reader is instead convinced of the speaker's seething madness. The imagined sound of the dead's man heart still beating is the narrator's undoing:

I felt that I must scream or die! and now—again!—hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks! here, here!—It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Had this story been told in the third-person, it would not have the same impact upon its audience. It is only in the mind of a crazy man such as this that while one attempts to follow the narrator's erratic thoughts, the reader can discover and be convinced that the criminal in the story has no reason or sound judgment. As he mentions early on, his obsession is only because of his hatred of the "Evil eye." Insanity is the only rationale for this statement, and hearing the narrator's thoughts is an effective way of allowing the reader to perceive the depth of his madness, and experience the horror of the speaker's actions—as Poe intends.

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Is the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe reliable?

Readers can consider the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" reliable in that he was the only person present at the time of the murder besides his victim and would therefore know where the corpse was concealed. He opens the story by admitting that he has a disease that he calls a "nervous disorder," but he denies that he is mad. He seeks to prove his point by how objectively and calmly he tells his story.

The narrator must be reliable if we follow how methodically he plans the murder once he had decided he needs to commit it. He takes the reader through the nights leading up to it, how he wins the old man's trust, and how patiently he gains access to his bedchamber. The narrator's account of how he planned and executed the murder is detailed enough to be credible. He is intimately familiar with the old man's room and self-aware enough to know that he must hide all evidence of the crime.

Though the narrator confesses at the end of the story, it does not harm his credibility because he indicated at the beginning of the story that he is afflicted with a nervous condition. His nervousness at being caught gets the best of him and he mistakes the nervous beating of his own heart for that of his victim.

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

In Poe's celebrated short story "The Tell-Tale Heart," there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that the narrator is unreliable. From the start of the story, the narrator's sanity is called into question when he attempts to convince the reader that he is sane. A mentally stable person would not feel the need to justify or prove his sanity, and the narrator's admission that he has supernatural hearing is quite disturbing. Also, the narrator's syntax is fragmented and staccato, which is indicative of a mentally unstable, neurotic individual and undermines the narrator's argument that he is not mad.

As the story progresses, the narrator continues to provide clear evidence that he is unreliable and deranged. The narrator's reason for killing the defenseless old man is unusual and once again highlights his mental instability. A reliable, rational individual would not claim to love a person and proceed to murder them because of their "Evil Eye." Once the narrator commits the horrible crime, he proceeds to dismember the old man's body and hides his remains underneath the floorboards. The way in which the narrator casually discusses his disturbing crime and proudly boasts about hiding the evidence highlights his madness.

Once the police arrive, the narrator claims to hear the dead man's heart beating from underneath the floorboards, believes that the officers are mocking him, and completely loses his composure. The reader recognizes that the narrator is hallucinating and guilt-ridden, while the narrator seems to genuinely believe he has supernatural hearing. Overall, the narrator's rationale for killing the old man, his argument that he is sane, his cavalier attitude regarding his horrific crime, and his admission that he has supernatural hearing is clear evidence that the narrator is unreliable and mentally unstable.

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

In common with most of Poe's narrators, the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is indeed thoroughly unreliable. Why? Well, for one thing, he tells us that he's mad. Paradoxically, then, if he's telling the truth, then we can't fully believe him due to his fraught psychological condition. But if he isn't telling the truth, and he's perfectly sane, then we still can't believe him because he's just told us a flat-out lie about his being mad. Either way, then, he's as untrustworthy as they come.

Furthermore, the motivations given to us by the narrator to justify his wicked act—if indeed it took place—are pretty far-fetched, to say the least. He seriously expects us to believe that he brutally murdered this kindly old man, this man who'd never shown him anything but the greatest kindness, because he had an "evil eye." The very idea is just too ridiculous for words.

And then, to top it off, we're further informed that the narrator's been prompted to tell his story by the insistent sound of the old man's heart beating beneath the floorboards, where he buried his body in little pieces. Once again, if the narrator's really mad, then we can't trust him. But if he's telling the truth, his story sounds so utterly implausible that we must still remain on our guard.

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

The narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is unreliable. He is trying from the very beginning of the story to make a case for his sanity, but the very story he tells completely undermines and is at odds with his assertions of sanity. Throughout his narrative, he recalls the events that led him to murder the old man and then confess. He attempts to illustrate his clearheaded reasonableness with examples. For instance, he tells us that he "loved the old man" and that the old man had never wronged him. This admission makes his murder of the man less, rather than more, understandable or sane. Why would you murder someone you loved who had done you know wrong—and merely over his eye, as the narrator insists is the case? 

He also asserts that he cannot be mad for the following reason:

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work!

Yet, we know that madmen can be quite knowledgeable—and can proceed with caution and foresight. The narrator completely misses the point while thinking he is making a valid point: it is not how he proceeded but what he did—murdering an innocent man for no good reason—that attests to his lack of mental stability.

Finally, he hears the dead man's heart beating at the end, probably a manifestation of his own guilt. Yet, rather than assume he might be hearing things or hallucinating, the narrator violently insists that the police are mocking him:

They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were making a mockery of my horror!—this I thought, and this I think.

The disjunction between what happens and how the narrator interprets it leads us to conclude he is unreliable. 

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

The narrator is a classic example of an unreliable narrator, because he is telling the entire story himself and there is no objective narration to back up his assertions. The first lines of the story show this, as the narrator is trying to explain that he is not mad, that he is perfectly sane, only that he is in the throes of some unnmamed illness that heightens his senses:

...why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them... How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
(Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart," xroads.virginia.edu)

A reliable narrator would not be pressed to justify his act, but only to tell it simply and without embellishment. Since this narrator cannot explain his actions without constantly explaining himself, he can't be fully trusted; furthermore, his later mental breakdown as he imagines the beating of the old man's heart shows that his mind is not healthy. If the story is taken allegorically, it is possible that the crime was imaginary and the narrator explaining his motivations in a sanitarium. In this story, the unreliable narrator is the key to both the crime itself and its solution; had the narrator had less guilt, and more mental stability, he might have gotten away with the murder much as Montresor did in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado."

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

The narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is certainly unreliable and mentally deranged. The narrator's unreliably is evident from the start of the story, when he admits that he suffers from a disease that sharpens his senses to the extent that he has supernatural hearing.

The narrator also insists that he is sane, which is a bold claim to make after admitting that he can hear all things in heaven, in hell, and on earth. The syntax of the narration and the hysterical tone in which the narrator tells the story are other red flags and more evidence that he is unreliable. A reliable, rational narrator would have no need to address his sanity or speak in an agitated tone.

The narrator's reasoning for committing the atrocious crime is also questionable and contributes to his unreliability. Although the narrator says that he loves the old man, he claims that the old man's Evil Eye drove him to murder. A mentally stable, rational person would not kill a vulnerable old man over a pale blue eye. The gruesome details of the crime further prove the narrator's mental instability as he chops the body into pieces before hiding it beneath the floorboards.

The reader also realizes that the narrator's "supernatural" hearing is simply his guilty conscience affecting him. The narrator claims that he can hear the deceased old man's heart beating, but the reader knows that it is his nerves and anxiety. In conclusion, the narrator of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" proves that he is unreliable by making outrageous claims, committing an atrocious crime without a valid reason, and continually undermining his argument that he is sane.
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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

In the aftermath of having murdered an old man, the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is trying to prove his own sanity and reliability. He fails dismally.

He claims that while he loved the deceased man very much, he had a disturbing evil eye, which prompted the narrator to murder. Even more damaging to the notion of his sanity and reliability is the fact that after the murder, the narrator chopped up the body and hid the pieces under the floorboards in an attempt to conceal his crime.

A further blow to the narrator's reliability occurs when the narrator perceives the sound of his victim's heart beating from beneath the floor, which leads to him confessing his crime to police.

The narrator concedes that he is especially nervous and admits freely that he suffers from health issues. He argues, however, that he cannot be called mad, and that his mental health challenges have made his hearing more acute. It is this acute hearing which he believes led him to hear the heartbeat from the dismembered corpse under the floorboards.

He is an interesting mix of insanity and lucidity, which is showcased in the way that he tells police what happened in the lead-up to his crime. References made to the wide open "evil eye" and the narrator's superhuman hearing tells us that this narrator's account is not to be relied upon.

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

The narrator in Poe's classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" is completely unreliable and is clearly mentally unstable. In the first paragraph of the story, there is a litany of clues that reveal the narrator's unreliability. The narrator uses staccato speech, which is typical of an extremely nervous, paranoid individual. The fact that he is attempting to persuade the reader that he is not mad is also suspicious. Why would a sane individual need to convince someone that they are not crazy? In addition to the narrator's staccato speech and insistence on his sanity, the narrator mentions that he can hear all things in heaven and hell, which is both disturbing and indicative of a mentally unstable person.

The narrator proceeds to contradict himself: he claims that he loved the old man, while simultaneously plotting his murder. The narrator's motivation for killing the old man is also suspicious, as he insists that the old man's Evil Eye is the source of his rage. He also believes that he can understand the old man's thoughts and read his mind. At this point in the story, the reader understands that the narrator is both mentally ill and unreliable. After describing the horrific way he murdered and dismembered the old man, the narrator proceeds to insist that he could hear the old man's heart beating from beneath the floorboards. The reader understands that the narrator's conscience has affected his mind and that he is overwhelmed with guilt. However, the narrator insists that he is audibly hearing the dead man's heartbeat, which reveals his insanity. The fact that the narrator presents a distorted view of reality and contradicts himself several times proves that he is unreliable.

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator tries to convince the reader that he is sane. However, as he tells his story, it becomes clear that he is indeed suffering from some mental instability. As a result, he is not a reliable narrator because his version of events is influenced by his state of mind, making it difficult for the reader to trust what he says.

The narrator, for example, clearly suffers from paranoia. He believes that the old man has an "evil eye" that delights in torturing him. Moreover, the narrator also believes that he is capable of reading the old man's mind. He thinks he knows what the old man is thinking and feeling. This is shown clearly when, on the night of the murder, the narrator claims that the old man thinks he can hear the wind in the chimney or a mouse crossing the floor.

The narrator, therefore, presents a distorted version of events, and this affects the reliability of his narration.

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," is the narrator reliable or unreliable?

The narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is definitely not trustworthy or reliable. Let’s examine why this statement is true.

For one thing, the narrator is not sane. He insists vehemently that he is sane, yet the more he proclaims this, the more we understand that it is not true. The narrator has gone completely insane to the point of killing an old man simply because of his eye.

The narrator declares that he will calmly tell his whole story, but that calm does not last long. It is interrupted by his assertions of sanity. As the story unfolds, we learn about the narrator’s obsession with the old man’s eye, his careful planning of the old man’s death, and his execution (quite literally) of the deed.

The narrator then describes how wisely he disposes of the body. There is nothing wise, of course, about mutilating a corpse and depositing it beneath the floorboards. Yet the narrator cannot be comfortable. When the police officers come, he declares that he easily convinces them of his innocence. Yet they stay, so something must seem wrong to them. The longer they remain, the more the narrator insists that he could hear the beating of the old man’s heart. This is impossible, for the old man is dead. His heart no longer beats. But the narrator insists upon it, not realizing that what is tormenting him is his own conscience.

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In the story "The Tell-Tale Heart," is Poe's narrator reliable or unreliable? What evidence from the story proves your point?

Anytime a story is told in 1st person point-of-view, it should be read with a skepticism that the narrator is unreliable.  This is even more true in any of Edgar Allan Poe's literature.  One reason why Poe was so successful in the horror genre (why he is credited as the American "grandfather" of horror) is his ability to create such psychologically twisted characters that there is always the possibility that reality is blurred through some sort of mental disorder.

The narrator's actions throughout the story resemble those of a guilty person, but the evidence that seems to most clearly point to his unreliability is how often he repeats that he is sane.  People in their right minds do not tend to question their own sanity, nor believe anyone else is.  This narrator speaks and acts through a clear tone of paranoia, which only emphasizes that he is an unrealiable narrator.

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Is the narrator in Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" a reliable source of information?

‘‘The Tell-Tale Heart’’ is in the form of a dramatic monologue delivered by an unidentified first-person narrator, who is, to answer you question, an absolutely unreliable source of information for many reasons.  The first reason is that the narrator suffers from a mental disorder that the reader can easily determine alters his perception of reality.  Claims of phenomenal hearing are easily discernible as psychotic delusions.  In addition, the narrator’s inability to recollect when or how the idea of committing the murder and the fact that he never reveals the actual identity, in terms of his relationship to his victim, other than to say that he loves him, also suggests the fact that there is something wrong with the idea of killing the victim (more than just the fact that murder in general is wrong).  It is also very unusual that the one thing that bothers the narrator and drives him to commit the murder, more than anything else, is one of the old man’s  eyes, “a pale-blue, film-covered eye like that of a vulture”, that disturbs him greatly to the point that he called it an ‘‘evil eye.” Futher evidence of his unreliability is the fact that, after his brutal murder and disposal of the body, he begins to hear a noise that he believes to be the heartbeat of his victim, and he eventually leads the police to the body where they find the body and the old man’s ‘‘hideous heart’’ still beating.

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Why is the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" considered unreliable?

The narrator is unreliable because the story he tells contradicts his purpose in telling it. That is, from the beginning of the story, the narrator wants to prove that he is not insane and tries to do this by explaining how and why he came to kill the old man. But those actions actually show that he is insane. The narrator's insistence that his mind, far from being sick, has actually become more powerful, especially through a heightened sense of hearing, suggests that he is prone to delusions. His obsession with the "vulture eye" of the old man is another delusion brought on by his so-called heightened perception. His desire to kill comes not from anything the old man did but as a way for the narrator to find release from the torment of his senses. Of course, killing the old man does not solve the problem; the narrator continues to hear the man's heart beating even after he has been chopped up and buried under the floorboards.

On the other hand, it's possible to consider the narrator "reliable" in the sense that he is giving a true account of what he thinks he's done. In this case, the story challenges the reader to understand the narrator's actions from his point of view—the point of view of a "madman."

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What does the opening paragraph of "The Tell-Tale Heart" imply about the narrator's reliability?

The narrator begins by agreeing with someone he is speaking to and admitting that he is dreadfully nervous. In the opening sentence, the narrator also uses backward syntax by saying, "dreadfully nervous I had been and am," which heightens the angst and tension of the speaker before he questions the person he is talking to about his sanity. The narrator proceeds to say that the "disease" had sharpened his senses. It is also interesting to note the numerous pauses in the sentences, which create a staccato effect that once again depicts the speaker's anxiety. The narrator then mentions that he had a heightened sense of hearing and was able to hear all things in heaven, on earth, and in hell. The speaker's comments are a red flag and the audience immediately begins questioning his sanity. The narrator once again questions the person he is speaking to about his sanity and challenges the audience to observe how easily he can tell the story, which will prove that he is sane. The narrator's unorthodox syntax, constant pauses, ominous diction ("dreadfully," "mad," "disease," "hell"), and repetitive questions regarding his sanity indicate that he is probably insane and unreliable. The most telling indication of his sanity is the comment he makes regarding his ability to hear all things in heaven and hell. Given the narrator's insistence on his sanity, the reader can assume that he is unreliable.

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What does the opening paragraph of "The Tell-Tale Heart" imply about the narrator's reliability?

When the narrator opens with the words that he is "very,very dreadfully nervous" and asks the reader why he thinks he is "mad", this obviously produces some doubt in the narrator's reliablity. The narrator continues by saying that he "heard all things in the heaven and in the earth." That comment alone casts doubt about his sanity because no one hears everthing, especially everything in heaven. Finally, the narrator has to call our attention to "how calmly I can tell you the whole story." By this time we are convinced that something is dreadfully wrong with the speaker because he is implying that he is usually not calm, but agitated.

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Why does Edgar Allan Poe use an unreliable narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

Sometimes an author may choose to use an unreliable narrator because they are depicting some aspect of human nature that a more reliable narrator might lack or try to hide. Or, perhaps the narrator himself or herself is trying to hide something, and this makes them unreliable. With this particular narrator, his relative lack of emotional and mental stability leads him not only to want to kill the old man because of his "vulture eye" but also to reveal clues to us as to why the eye bothers him so very much.

It seems that the old man has cataracts, as this would account for the "veil" within the eye that bothers the narrator so much. Cataracts is a condition that typically affects the elderly, those closer to death than the young or middle-aged. Further, vultures are connected with death as well, because they live on the carcasses of dead animals. Moreover, the narrator even says at one point that he recognizes the "groan of mortal terror" made by the fearful old man, on the night the narrator actually does kill him, because he "knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight," he says, "when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well." So, now we know that the narrator himself fears death, his own death: he is upset by the "old" man's "vulture eye" and often groans as a result of his own "mortal terror" just at "midnight," a time symbolic of the death of day. A more stable individual might find ways of coping with this fear— going to therapy, going to church, etc.—and would not resort to murder in order to keep reminders of death at bay. However, because this narrator is so unstable, he not only obsesses fearfully, but also doesn't seem to recognize the fear for what it is, and so he inadvertently gives us clues. We are left to piece it together for ourselves, which is a somewhat satisfying process.

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Why does Edgar Allan Poe use an unreliable narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

The idea that the narrator is unreliable is established in the opening lines of the story with the mention of madness. To really understand why Poe would use a narrator plagued by mental illness and, therefore, unreliable, imagine the story being told from the point of view of the old man. In this scenario, the reader would have no idea of the murderer's motive (the evil eye), his preparations for the murder, or any concept of how he came to reveal his crime at the end of the story.

Poe, therefore, chooses this unreliable narrator because it enables the reader to get a glimpse into the workings of the insane mind. We get to experience the highs and lows of madness, the narrator's paranoia, and his auditory hallucinations first-hand. This creates a level of suspense and tension that would not be the same if the story was told by a reliable narrator.

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Why does Edgar Allan Poe use an unreliable narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

Not only does "The Tell-Tale Heart" have an unreliable narrator, other stories of his (for example, "The Black Cat") do as well. One could support Poe's use of the unreliable narrator as something which mirrors his own turbulent life.

The importance of the unreliable narrator in "The Tale-Tale Heart" comes from the attack the narrator makes upon the readers. He immediately accuses them of thinking he is mad. Not only does this put the narrator on the defensive, it puts readers on the defensive as well. Readers tend to be shocked about the nature of the narrator's crime: the murder of an old man based upon his eye. Many readers believe that murdering a person based upon an eye is insane. Therefore, compounded with the fact that the narrator claims sanity, readers tend to believe that the narrator is, in fact, insane.

Essentially, readers do not wish to think that a sane person could murder another based on only an eye. The unreliable narrator allows readers to accept the heinous crime based upon the narrator's insanity. By making the narrator unreliable, readers are able to come to terms with the fact that the narrator is trying to ignore his mental instability. In the end, it is his unreliable nature which allows readers to accept what has happened. The use of a reliable narrator would force readers to think that normal people could commit horrendous actions--something they (assumedly) do not wish to do.

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Is the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" reliable? Why or why not?

The reliability of the narrator is a very common consideration when it comes to "A Tell-Tale Heart."

As one begins to read the story it soon becomes clear that there is a problem with the narrator. The eerie feel that pervades his account leaves the reader with the immediate impression that "something is wrong."

When a murderer tries to justify his actions there is every reason to be skeptical of his reasoning and his conclusions. The old man did nothing to bring his tragic fate on himself, it was all in the mind of the narrator. Who was the old man? Was this his father? Was it his grandfather? We are never told.

With the presence of the police his madness takes over to the point that he confesses on the grounds that they must hear the heart of the dead man beating under the floorboards.

There is little question that he is unreliable, except in his confession.

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Which details suggest the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" is unreliable?

In the opening paragraph of the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe establishes the narrator as unreliable through his erratic, staccato syntax, his continual insistence that he is completely sane, and his supernatural sense of hearing. The narrator's fragmented, choppy syntax suggests that he suffers from a nervous condition as he continually mentions his sanity, which makes the reader think otherwise. When the narrator mentions that he hears all things in heaven and hell, the reader recognizes these comments as red flags that the narrator is mentally unstable and unreliable.

The narrator proceeds to say that he loves the old man before elaborating on his maniacal plan to murder him, which is both ironic and perplexing. The narrator's motivation for killing the old man is also questionable. He tells the reader that the old man's Evil Eye is his sole motivation to commit murder and once again attempts to convince the reader of his sanity. On the eighth night when the narrator wakes the old man, he elaborates on his moan, which comes from the "bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe." The narrator then mentions that he also has experienced the same "dreadful echo" in his own soul that has terrified him at night. This comment is more evidence to suggest that the narrator is mentally deranged and unreliable.

The narrator then reveals that he has completely lost touch with reality by claiming to hear the old man's heart beating beneath the floorboards, which the reader recognizes as his own feelings of overwhelming guilt. Overall, the narrator is depicted as unreliable for his staccato, fragmented speech, his attempts to convince the reader of his sanity, his supernatural sense of hearing, and his ridiculous motivation to murder the old man.

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