Many works of literature can be seen as having more to it than just what the text says. This is seen true when psychoanalyzing Edgar Allan Poe’s short story. Reading through “The Tell-Tale Heart” one can sense the obsession and paranoia a killer has. The narrator is unconsciously a murderer and sees nothing wrong with what he did, which is psychoanalytically displacement. When reading “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the reader can clearly sense instability in the narrator. He starts off by admitting to killing a man, but that he is not crazy. The paranoia that was brought when thinking about the old man’s pale blue eyes is the reasoning for killing him. He states that the eyes brought intense fear to him, y et he stalks them every night. The narrator’s manifest content is wanting to separate the old man from the vulture eye. After watching the old man night after night, he finally decides that this night he will finally do what he has been wanting to do. When the old man hears him and screams, the narrator thinks nothing of it. But then he hears an intense heart beat; worried that the neighbors will hear this heartbeat, he jumps through the window and kills the man. This scene shows how unstable the narrator is. After the murder and dismembering of the old man the narrator says, “I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done” (6) and that “his eye would trouble me no more” (6). He states how clever his crime was, and that no one would find out. While re-claiming that he’s not crazy, he laughs sinisterly. One can clearly interpret that the narrator has no feelings towards a human soul considering he dismembered the old man and putting his body parts under the floorboards and smiles after.
The fear of this eye is greater than a man’s life. This short story is the epitome of obsession verse fear. The narrator is obsessed with the eye, even though it brings him fear; which is an unconscious desire. He wishes the destroy the eye. But once the deed is done, he is originally satisfied but then falls apart. Because he loses it when the police are there, this behavior can be interpreted to coming into reality and that he killed what he loves. Unconsciously the narrator could have loved the old man which is why he stalks him every night, he wants to save the old man from evil. No person would kill someone just to save them, there has to be an intense obsession. The heartbeat shown when looking through the window and when talking to police, is the narrator’s heart beat. His sensitivity is so heightened that it overcomes him and cannot distinguish between real and imagine sounds. He obsesses over the heartbeat but not the yelling of the old man. The reader then can see that one’s mind can overpower an individual and that the narrators paranoia and guilt make it inevitable that he will turn himself in. The narrator has a psychological complexity of two opposite emotions, love and hate. He confesses that he loves the old man, but then violently kills the man.
A motif is his animal-like actions of dismembering the man and there be an absence of human reason and morality. His plea for sanity is by separating the old man and eye. The narrator is unconsciously a murderer and sees nothing wrong with what he did, which is psychoanalytically displacement. In that, he substituted his love for the man with his hatred for the eye, and that nothing will get in between him destroying the evil blue eye. Many stories can be psychoanalyzed on many levels. Psychoanalyzing Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator has an obsession, and will not let anything get in his way of achieving his goal, not even a human life. The narrator is almost like an animal in that he finds nothing wrong with his crime. He claims he is sane, but all readers of this short story can see the inaccuracy of that statement throughout the entire text.