This free persuasive essay sample is dedicated to one of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories called 'The Tell-Tale Heart'.
Anytime we are told a story, our first instinct is to believe all of the information we are told. If our grandfather wants to reminisce about his World War II days and how the Russians rescued him from a prisoner-of-war camp, we simply want to listen and follow his narrative without having to sift through it to find the grain of truth in what he’s saying. We simply want to listen and relive his experience, believing ALL he says. The same applies to fiction – as we read a story for the first time, we are forced to believe what the narrator tells us. Then there is the case of the unreliable narrator. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” is told by an unreliable narrator, who is mentally ill – though he attempts to convince the reader (in vain) that he is “not mad” – and is also capable of planning and murdering an otherwise innocent old man whom he “loved”.
First of all, right away, the nervous narrator in Poe’s story, in the first paragraph, defends their sanity, evidencing their paranoia and denial of their insanity: “True! – nervous – very, very nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” At this point and time the reader knows nothing about the reader’s mental state, so there is no reason for the narrator to defend their insanity; this is a sign of the narrator’s delusional state of mind, being out of touch with reality, that implies their inability to tell the story objectively and truthfully. He defends his sanity several times throughout the narrative, by the way. That fact the he answers questions that were never stated in the first place implies he is most certainly insane and, therefore, incapable of telling a truthful, objective account to the reader (who cannot trust an emotionally incompetent, crazy narrator). This is the first evidence that the person telling “The Tell-Tale Heart” is indeed an unreliable narrator.
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