The Tell Tale Heart: Summary Analysis and Sanity of the killer in this short story.
Let us critically analyse and summarise the elements of horror in the heinous act of the killer and overall atmosphere of Suspense in “The Tell Tale Heart”.
“The Tell Tale Heart” is a short story based on suspense and explores into human psychological processes revealing how minor incidents and small irritations could lead to even harsher acts including the murder. The story is full of suspense and horror as it is about murder. The killer tells us why and how he killed the old man in a sane mental condition. The slayer clarifies the purpose: “object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me…For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye”.
The old man had an artificial eye which resembled that of a vulture. He hated the eye of the old man. His “blood ran cold” whenever the eye fell on him. Though the youth was very much associated with the old man yet he did get irritated whenever he came across that vulture like eye. Gradually, the young man got so much into the matter that he made up his “mind to take the life of the old man” and “rid the eye forever”. He devised a good plan.
It is often questioned whether he was in a sane mental condition or not when he killed the old man. The answer is not very simple because the youth tries to justify that he did everything under a very calm and peaceful manner. He weighed the very slightest detail of the plan of his killing the old man. It was not a murder of rage or hurry. It was a gradually implemented plan that he young man executed well; however, the actual act of murdering the old man took place only when the eye was open i.e. the vulture like eye.
The murderer visited the old man’s room for eight consecutive nights. But it was on the eighth night that he found the vulture eye open “wide open” and he killed him. He entered his room stealthily. The man had a covered lantern in his hand. He removed the cover of the lantern a bit to throw a dim ray of light on the old man’s vulture eye. The eye was wide open. He attacked the old man and killed him. Then, he dismembered his body and disposed it of under the planks. He cleaned the room. He executed the plan well in good mental health.
Later the police men came and inquired as to the shriek heard by the neighbours. The killer tried his best to hide the killing of the man but his heart, his own heart resounded as if it were the heart of the old man. The killer could not control his emotional breakdown and because he was up with a strong conscience which forced him to admit his act of murdering the old man.