Posted: February 15th, 2023

Show how the speaker in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is unreliable using textual evidence.

The narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is an unreliable speaker because he exhibits numerous irrational behaviors that indicate his mental instability. Throughout the text, it becomes increasingly clear that the speaker is not of a sound mind, and his unreliability as a narrator only increases as events progress.

At the beginning of the story, when describing why he committed murder, we can see signs of irrationality in how he describes his victim: “he was never kind to me,” “there was an evil eye upon me” (Poe). From this language alone, it’s immediately evident that something isn’t quite right with him; no reasonable person would think having someone who wasn’t particularly nice to them warranted their death. Furthermore, the phrase “evil eye” suggests superstition on his part – another sign that his judgement may be impaired.

Show how the speaker in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is unreliable using textual evidence.

As the story progresses and its narrator reveals more about himself and actions taken leading up to and after the killing, further evidence arises showing us just how unreliable a source of information he truly is. For instance, despite being aware of how suspiciously strange certain aspects of his behavior might look to others – such as calmly entering into conversations during police investigations while knowing full well he had killed someone in cold blood moments prior – our speaker insists everything was done with complete normalcy: “you should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight” (Poe). Here we find yet another example demonstrating thinking patterns wildly out-of-sync with reality; any sane individual would recognize these behaviors are far from normal or wise.

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Additionally, throughout “The Tell Tale Heart” we witness our protagonist making claims which seem almost delusional at times; for instance when speaking about himself somewhat boastfully: “I heard all things in heaven and in hell [and] nothing alarmed me…I knew myself nothing could touch me”(Poe). This statement implies a godlike invulnerability which anyone outside of one’s own head would be inclined to doubt – suggesting yet again our speaker has difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

Lastly – even after committing murder (a crime punishable by death) without any visible regret or remorse – our chief character still proclaims total innocence claiming ‘nothing could equal my [his] crime’. Such claims are hard to believe given society’s generally accepted views on taking Another’s life; again indicating poor judgement on behalf of our protagonist thus showing us just how untrustworthy a source he truly is.

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Overall it can be said definitively through textual evidence provided above that The Narrator Of ‘The Tell Tale heart’ Is An Unreliable Speaker due to exhibiting numerous irrational Behaviors That Suggest Mental Instability throughout The Story

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