It is hard to find a work that will be as chilling to the soul and inspire an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Despite its brevity, it is sure to leave an imprint on the memory of every person who chooses to read it. The author masterfully describes the necessary emotions of the main character without needing any additional descriptions of what is happening. The work touches on a theme such as the validity and rightness of a person’s actions from the first lines. At the same time, despite the certainty of the correctness of the deed, the central character still doubts his choice and resorts to excuses for the act committed. Thus, the author raises the problem of human conscience and forces the reader to think about who is the primary judge – the man or the law.
A distinctive feature of this story is that it is told in the first person, and throughout the narrative, the protagonist seems to be addressing the reader. Despite the fact that the author does not specifically indicate the gender of the character, there is a feeling that this is a man. The protagonist is looking for support concerning the deed he has done. He describes in detail his actions that led to the commission of the crime. His deliberate rationality, however, only underscores the lack of motivation for the murder. The man describes how he made his way into his victim’s apartment over the course of several days. The protagonist speaks with particular passion about what concerned him most-the older adult’s eye. He describes it as predatory, capable of destroying a person in an instant. Poe does not describe the sacrifice of the protagonist in any way, nor does he give any justification for his motive.
Continuing the theme of the justifiability of the central character’s actions, it is important to note how much he tries to justify his actions. To be more realistic, he describes in detail not only the nights he spent stalking but also how he dealt with the older man’s dead body. He constantly clarifies and interrogates the reader, trying to assure both himself and the outside viewer of the correctness of what was done. In this way, the author shows the torment of the protagonist’s conscience by showing his frantic attempts to justify himself. However, the defenders of the law who cause him such an intense fear that he does not hold back and confesses.
The following central problem in this work is the insistence on convincing the reader that the protagonist is sane. Despite the obvious problems with the psychological state of the murderer, the author tries in every way to convince in the opposite. His detailed and thorough explanations of the murder also serve this purpose. This fact contributes to the emergence of doubt and uncertainty in the man’s mental well-being. His nature is especially pronounced when the police show up. This moment has unique emotional content. The constant noise and ringing that did not leave the murderer but only increased, deafening him and preventing him from concentrating on covering up the terrible deed act as a tool his conscience tries to use to take over. Extreme anxiety, heightened tension, and pressure prevails in it. Thereby it is possible to conclude that by literally swearing about his sanity, the main character is unable to assess his actions and correctly set priorities adequately.