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Contemporary Relevance of Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart - Research Paper Example

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Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart explores the issue of insanity as an explanation or excuse for murder. The narrator in Poe’s short story questions his sanity numerous times. The story is being related to a person in power. Poe does not reveal the person, but they are a doctor, judge, policeman, or another in charge…
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Contemporary Relevance of Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

Download file to see previous pages... However, Mr. Poe’s narrator and many criminals today do not fall under the innocent by reason of insanity verdict. The problem becomes this narrator felt guilty about his actions. That rules out a by reason of insanity verdict. The human conscious makes sane people feel guilty about the act of unjustified murder. The narrator and the contemporary murders that felt guilt are to be judged sane. The insanity defense has been used for murder acquittal or an explanation for murder in the United States since Edgar Allan Poe’s time. Although many feel the insanity defense is a lighter sentence, Greene and Heilbrun in Wrightsman’s Psychology and the Legal System points out that an individual found not guilty by reason of insanity will remain in a psychiatric facility longer than if sentenced to prison (213). Under U.S. law a person found not guilty by reason of insanity will remain in a psychiatric facility until doctors find them sane again. Andrea Yates is an example of this. Maria Newman’s “Yates Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” states “Ms. ...
The narrator would remain in a psychiatric hospital for the rest of his life, or until the noise got too much for him to bear resulting in suicide. Poe’s narrator believes he is mad or insane. In fact, the narrator embraces his madness. The narrator states in the first paragraph “but why will you say that I am mad? The disease has sharpened my senses---not destroyed---not dulled them” (Poe 3). The narrator cannot come up with any other reason for murdering the old man. He did not dislike him. The narrator admits “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man” (Poe 3). In Poe’s time to murder without reason was to be considered quite mad. Today it is defined as a psychopath. It is not considered madness. However, that does not stop individuals like Andrea Yates or Jeffrey Dahmer, among a few, to try and explain their murderous actions by claiming insanity. The insanity of Poe’s narrator, like with anyone else, has to be questioned. The law and citizen alike are skeptical of the insanity defense. Greta Olsen’s article “Reconsidering Unreliability: Faillible and Untrustworthy Narrators” explains “Whenever an author conveys to his reader an unspoken point, he creates a sense of collusion against all those, whether in the story or out of it, who do not get that point. Irony is always thus in part a device for excluding as well as for including, and those who are included, those who happen to have the necessary information to grasp the irony, cannot but derive at least a part of their pleasure from a sense that others are excluded.” As a reader, Poe’s narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” comes across honest in his madness. However, Olsen makes a good point. The narrator is colluding with the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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