The "Tale-Tale Heart" is a famous short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. The "Tell-Tale Heart" serves as a prime example of Poe's works displaying the elements of death, misery, madness and human troubled relationships that are prevalent in most of his writings. The story's two essential characters are the narrator and the old man, who go unnamed throughout the tale. The story circles around the narrator's desire to kill the old man, which when analyzing this character, leads us to question if he was mentally insane. While many may differ, throughout the story, for example, in the moments while he proudly describes his murderous plot the narrator comes across as extremely unreliable, filling the reader with doubts of not only his veracity but also of his mental stability. Moreover, as the story unfolds the narrator's actions and behavior –contrary to his own allegations- clearly reveals the mind of a completely psychotic killer.
Before we explore the fine points that prove that the narrator is in fact mental, it must be pointed out that not once throughout the story does the author explicitly tell us if the narrator is male or female. The main reason I feel confident identifying the narrator as a male is these lines: "You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing" (Poe 37). The narrator's character is very intense. He is constantly nervous and paranoid. The most important characteristic about the narrator is that he is in fact a murderer. This could be the reason why when he was describing the events that lead to the murder and the murder itself, he doesn't share his name, or any other identifying characteristics. It seems as though he wants us to know what he did, but not where to find him. Just like he executed the perfect murder, leaving no traces of evidence behind, he was giving a perfect, ideal and self-benefitting confession.
From the very beginning Poe provides many context clues throughout the tale that support that despite the narrator's assertions of sanity, he is in fact insane.