A Guilty Mind
Have you ever felt so guilty that you confessed to what you did? In the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator kills an old man he serves because of his “evil eye.” He hides the corpse under the floor in the living room. The police come shortly after the concealment of the body. The narrator is confident at first but soon goes crazy from the beating of a heart, exactly like the time when he killed the old man after seven nights of waiting.
He thinks it is the old man is taunting him with his heart in both occasions, but the heart is his. In the end his guilt drives him to confess. Guilt makes for hesitation and fear. The narrator had waited seven days to kill the old man (Poe7). This shows that his guilt had made him hesitate.
The beating of a heart drives him to kill the old man (11). The heart is actually the narrator’s and is his guilt. His own heart had turned against him to create hesitation and fear of the heart. The guilt of the narrator has him go completely insane. In the story the police show up to inspect the house because there was a report of a scream.
The scream was of the old man when he was about to be suffocated to death; the narrator tells the police that the scream was his because he had a bad dream. He invites them in and they start to talk. But soon the narrator hears a ringing in his head and starts talking faster (Poe 19-20). He thinks it is the old man’s heart beating under the floor, even though he is dead. But it is his heart beating with guilt and nerves. He soon raved, foamed at the mouth, cursed, called the police villains and confessed (21-24).
He had done this because he thought that the police knew he committed murder. He ripped the floor boards that hid the corpse. The narrator is driven to madness from his own guilt. The narrator’s guilt is his undoing. The narrator waits to kill the old man, which shows that he has a guilty conscience. Once the day comes he is full of guilt, but still kills the man.
When the police arrive his guilt comes back and makes him confess. He confesses as a mad man. Everyone has a tell-tale sign. What is yours? Think about the narrator and see if it will be your undoing.