In the story The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator tries to convince the reader that he is sane. However, he is also a murderer that killed a person with no tangible motive. He claims that the reason why he has killed his beloved benefactor because one of his eyes resembled a vulture’s, not the action a sane person would usually take. Much of the story he tells appears to be accurate, with only the motivation betraying the narrator’s madness. Overall, the narrator appears to be reliable, and only the detail of the victim’s heartbeat being audible is questionable.
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The narrator describes the murder incident fairly clearly and likely accurately. He discusses his preparation to kill the man as well as his entry into the bedroom on the fateful night with the detail that indicates the care he used to prepare the plan. The claim that the murderer waited for the old man to fall back asleep is likely exaggerated, however. Moreover, it is unlikely that the killer was able to hear the beating of his victim’s heart. However, this detail is ultimately inconsequential, as it would make no difference to the killer or the events whether the beat was real or imaginary.
The account of the time after the murder is also clear and gives little room for doubt. The murderer discusses his actions with precision and can most likely be believed, as he appears to have no reason to lie. However, the heartbeat appears once again, and this time, there is no doubt that the narrator is imagining it. The event’s association with stress, just as in the first case, calls the last instance into question, as well. With that said, it is the only case in which the author’s words give the reader any reason to doubt. Overall, the narrator appears to be accurate in his retelling of the story as long as one disregards the minor detail of the heartbeat.