The Disease Had Sharpened My Senses Not Destroyed Not Dulled Them. So Begins the Short
“The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed—not dulled them.” So begins the short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. [RG1]The speaker is an unnamed narrator who is the main character. He’s living in a house with an old man that has a glass eye. The glass eye provokes the narrator’s aggravation towards the eye immensely whenever he sees it. “He had the eye of a vulture…Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold…” says the narrator (132). When the narrator can’t bear to see it anymore, he resolves to kill the old man. At the beginning of the story, the narrator tellsThe beginning of the story brings us to the narrator telling us that he isn’t crazy. “Hearken! And observe how healthily—how calmly I can tell you the whole story…Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work!” (132). Unfortunately, the narrator’s actions counter-act all of the things he says to prove that he wasn’t crazy[RG2].
The narrator tells us that madmen aren’t cautious when they’re going to kill someone, but that he is and, because of that, he is not mad. “Ha!—would a madman have been so wise as this?” (133) he says after he explains how he went to work. “You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, what dissimulation, I went to work!” (132) The happiness in his voice is evident as well as his cautiousness and calmness which, in fact, leads us to think he is indeed unstable.[RG3]
Motivation. [RG4]What motivated the narrator to kill the old man? [RG5]It certainly wasn’t for his wealth. The narrator even stated that he didn’t want it “For his gold I had no desire.” (132). What he’s saying is even though the old man did have gold, he was not after his financial wealth. No, that wasn’t his reason. He wasn’t killing him because he hated him; in fact, the narrator loved the old man (132). “I loved the old man.” (132)He had said. That wasn’t his reason either.No; his reason to kill the old man was because of his ever-burning hatred for the old man’s eye. [RG6]
Unfortunately for the old man, the narrator succeeded in ridding himself of the old man’s eye by murdering the old man. [RG7]With an air of victory over his fear, the narrator was filled with confidence and was perfectly fine when policemen came to check out noises the neighbor had heard (when the old man had shrieked). “I smiled—for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome […] My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease[RG8].” (137)
[RG1]Unfortunately, the story doesn't begin precisely with this sentence. That was my mistake.
You could do something like this:
So the narrator of Edgar Allen Poe's “The Tell-Tale Heart” informs us at the beginning of his tale.
But of course that would change the sentence that follows, the third sentence. There are other ways to fix the second sentence, if you prefer.
[RG2]Here is your thesis statement. You must now set out to show how and why this is true. Everything in the essay should follow from this point, should be used to support this point.
Why not also make the point that everything the narrator says that means he ISN’T crazy are the very things that make use think he is.
[RG3]You should develop this point further, use more citations of caution, more of cleverness, more of dissimulation, more of happiness. You will need more than one paragraph to cover these ideas.
These would seem to be at the heart of your essay, given the first paragraph.
In your citations, break them up. Do not overwhelm the paragraph with long quotations. The essay is short. The citations must, for the most part, also be short.
[RG4]This is not a sentence.
[RG5]You could open the discussion of motivation with this question, once you have covered caution, cleverness, etc.
[RG6]Now, go into more of the narrator’s reaction to that eye, how it torments him.
If you’re going to address this point, you need to explore it.
[RG7]This is too brief a treatment for what concerns the majority of the story, particularly when it has bearing on your discussion.
[RG8]Why is he now at ease?
Develop your discussion of the narrator’s responses to the eye, and to the sound of the heart. You need to address this business of his supposed "sharpened senses."
[RG9]This revelation of yours is important:
The narrator's obsession with the old man's eye becomes his own undoing because he's caught up between his internal battles and his transformation from confidence to guilt.