The protagonist of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a fine example of an untrustworthy narrator, portraying a character who cannot be trusted to tell the simple truth of what is really happening. He explicitly demonstrates his unreliability in the first paragraph of the novel, where he is caught concentrating on mental clarity and shows signs of insanity due to his constant oversensitivity and nervousness, especially in the area of hearing. When he eventually declares his sanity, he mysteriously displays a number of obvious conceptual gaps that are vividly traced to psychosis (Poe 1-64).. Poe has severally opted to capture the state of mind of psychotic characters in his writing. Notably, the narrator of this story shows a great range of reasoning that is evidently similar to the logic dreams than they do. The emotional instability of the narrator enhances the lack of confident if he can have good judgment. His response in many cases is below expectation. He is more concerned about the old mans vulture-like eyes which he hates and that overcomes the love for the man causing him to create murder. He eventually becomes so cheerful after he succeeds in murdering the victim; he clearly develops a feeling of accomplishment after the murder but attributes its action to insanity.
Moreover, the narrator unsuspecting behavior of the policeman vividly shows that he is essentially not considerate of his behavior and his surroundings. He is unable to give a clear understanding of reality and his inner thoughts; he misinterprets the innocent chatter of the policeman for hostility and confuses his mental agitation for physical agitation. During all this time he has confidently and logically interpreted all the events of the story giving a firm suggestion that in Poes mind that the main assumes that irrationality is the belief in ones rationality (Poe 1-64).
The narrator account in The Tell-Tale Heart gives an emphatic effect of how he sees himself to be too calm to be insane but he is unable to interpret the noise beating on his own heart. The narrator aspect of unreliability makes it rather impossible to know clearly if the beating is an abnormal effect, a result of his imagination or even an actual sound. However, a possible explanation to this act is that when the protagonist is undergoing stressful times, he hears the sound of his heart as a dull, quick sound like a watch makes when it is enveloped in cotton and he wrongly interprets it as the sound of the old mans heart. The narrator inability of understanding enhances his lack of awareness in his actions evidently as he converses with the policeman and displays improper reasoning that leads to his claims of insanity (Poe 1-64).
Poe embraces the use of ironical vocabulary or tends to provoke a reaction not similar to the narrator desires in an effort to create a narrative that will showcase the protagonist instability to the reader. He uses the rhetorical technique in his account to manipulate the primary meaning of his words but he is not that calm to avoid the start of an argument.an external observer can describe him as being caring and observer to the old man as he sleeps because the narrator informs the reader that you should have seen how wisely I proceededwith what cautionwith that foresightwith what dissimulation I went to work!. The narrator applies the use of words like wisely and caution to manipulate and deceive the reader and bring out his character as a clever and prudent individual in a bid to explain his actions (Poe 1-64). However, his loud effort at deception enlightens rather than deceives his audience.
Poe Edger. The Tell-Tale Heart. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.p1-64