Is the Tell-Tale Heart's Narrator Mad, or Devious?

  • Status

    State
    Next Steps
    Case Date
    Jurors Accepted
    Juror Verdicts Finalized

    The details, verdicts, and comments within this case record come from its participants. The Court's role is solely to facilitate the case process.

    Copyright © 2022-2023 Bright Plaza, Inc., All Rights Reserved. No one may publish a case, or any part of it, without a clear reference to the link with the case number as in https://www.truthcourt.net/case/<case-id-number>

  • Details

    Name
    Category
    URL
    Markup
    Lie Truth

     
    Accusation
  • Verdicts

    Answer: Yes
    Answer Confidence: 50 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator tell us many times that he is not mad. For instance, he says: "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! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him."

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    This is a self-deception. He believes he is in control but the lies he makes up for the old man to kill him, makes for an out of control lie of the tell-tale heart beating which drives him mad.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 65 %
    Supporting Text:
    Driven by fear of his house-mate’s “evil eye”, the narrator says he shrewdly plans his murder, kills and dismembers him, and successfully hides the corpse. When the police arrive, they find nothing amiss and he is triumphant (“I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim”). Why would it have been rational at that point to have pretended to be deranged by the ever louder (unheard) heartbeat of his victim and to have confessed? Only if he was convinced that further investigation (disappearance of his house-mate, putrid decomposition of the corpse) would have found him guilty. The reader is not convinced of this. His nervousness seems to have made him loose control of his faculties.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    There are several factors that suggest that the narrator is not in control of his faculties and is suffering from severe mental illness: • Mental instability (obsession with the old man's eye, meticulous planning) • Auditory hallucinations (claims to hear the old man's heart beating loudly) • Repeated denials of insanity • Overemphasis on rationality (describes at length how they carefully planned and executed the crime) • Confession of the crime (seems to be a result of a deteriorating mental state rather than a rational admission) His erratic behavior, delusions, and gradual descent into madness clearly demonstrate that he is not in control of his faculties and is an unreliable narrator. I believe the narrator's view of reality is severely distorted, causing them to genuinely believe their version of events.

    Answer: Yes
    Answer Confidence: 40 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator gives a clear and detailed account of his actions and motivations. Reliability is questionable, however, because his sanity is not assured and his account could be riddled with delusions.

    Answer: Yes
    Answer Confidence: 50 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator's comments clearly show that his actions were coldly premeditated, and not done in a mad frenzy. Consider this statement: "And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept."

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    The truth is that the self-deception is in control of his facilities and is not reliable because it ultimately makes him truly mad.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 65 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator is not in complete control of his faculties if as he says he often wakes up groaning in mortal terrors “arising from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe”.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    While the narrator initially presents himself as rational and composed, it becomes evident as the story unfolds that he is not in control of his faculties. His unreliability becomes increasingly apparent as he tries to justify his actions and convince the reader of his sanity. I think the plaintiff's statement doesn't show the full complexity of the narrator's character.

    Answer: Yes
    Answer Confidence: 95 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator's comments clearly show that his actions were coldly premeditated, and not done in a mad frenzy. Consider this statement: "And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept."

    Answer: Yes
    Answer Confidence: 50 %
    Supporting Text:
    He is acting out a premeditated, well rehearsed plan, carefully, step-by-step. This statement reveals that the narrator is in full possession of his faculties: "Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers—of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph."

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    The is Poe's brilliant mixing of truth and lies where the lies ultimately win the day and destroys the self-deceiving man.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 60 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator makes several statements that are implausible, for example that he loved the old man (despite his evil eye), or unverifiable, for example “for his gold I had no desire” (would he have left it if he had gotten away with the murder?).

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    I believe the plaintiff's statement simplifies the narrator's character, thus neglecting both his descent into madness and the untrustworthiness of his narrative, which misrepresents Poe's intended psychological exploration.

    Answer: Don't Know
    Answer Confidence: 60 %
    Supporting Text:
    It's undoubtedly the narrator's whole truth but whether in reality it is the whole truth is difficult to determine.

    Answer:
    The deceit is that the narrator is mad.
    Answer Confidence: 50 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator is pretending to be mad to escape the consequences of his heinous act. His careful work reveals that his act, terrible though is was, was not done in madness. "If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye—not even his—could have detected any thing wrong."

    Answer:
    The deceit is that the man is in control and telling himself the truth when always, he is lying to himself.
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:

    Answer:
    The deceit is that the lie is manipulating.
    Answer Confidence: 65 %
    Supporting Text:
    It was not clearly rational of the narrator to pretend madness and confess when he was apparently triumphant, as I said above. Maybe nervousness overwhelmed rationality

    Answer:
    The deception lies in claiming that the narrator is in control of his faculties and trustworthy.
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    The events in the story clearly contradict this depiction.

    Answer:
    Is it deceit or illusion?
    Answer Confidence: 60 %
    Supporting Text:
    Maybe he's feigning madness by the very nature of his denials of madness. Clever or crazy? Don't know.

    Answer: Yes
    Answer Confidence: 50 %
    Supporting Text:
    The narrator is pretending to be mad to escape punishment for his cruel, well-thought-out murder scheme. Consider this statement as proof of his perfectly rational planning (note he even laughs!): "There was nothing to wash out—no stain of any kind—no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all—ha! ha!"

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    The control is always a lie and it is unintended as a self-deceit.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 70 %
    Supporting Text:
    Again, maybe nervousness overwhelmed rationality.

    Answer: No
    Answer Confidence: 75 %
    Supporting Text:
    The plaintiff probably didn't mean to deceive intentionally. They might just see the character's mental state differently. A conversation with the plaintiff might clarify their intentions.

    Answer: Don't Know
    Answer Confidence: 60 %
    Supporting Text:
    If sane then the deceit is intended but if he is mad then there really isn't any deceit.

    Answer:
    The motivation behind his false display of "madness" is to escape punishment for his heartless act of murder.
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    He knew that the old man's murder would eventually be discovered when he turned up missing, so he deviously 'confessed,' all the while pretending to be mad. His false 'madness' was further demonstrated by his cleverly invented claim that he could still hear the heartbeats of his victim. What better way to make the authorities believe that he was mad than by claiming he was not, while at the same time claiming to hear the heart beats?

    Answer:
    The motivation behind the self-deceit is to believe he is in reliable control of his faculties.
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:

    Answer:
    The motivation behind his false display of "madness" is to escape punishment for his heartless act of murder.
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    He knew that the old man's murder would eventually be discovered when he turned up missing, so he deviously 'confessed,' all the while pretending to be mad. His false 'madness' was further demonstrated by his cleverly invented claim that he could still hear the heartbeats of his victim. What better way to make the authorities believe that he was mad than by claiming he was not, while at the same time claiming to hear the heart beats?

    Answer:
    I'm not sure what the motivation is.
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    To understand the motivation, we would need a better understanding of the plaintiff's interpretation of the story and what they intended.

    Answer:
    I'm not sure what the motivation is.
    Answer Confidence: 65 %
    Supporting Text:
    If the narrator's account were given in the context of a trial then I might view his comments as an attempt to evade punishment. But in the tale he seems to be just ranting.

    Answer: Don't Know
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    It is always acceptable for a critic to posit a proposition about a work like this, then use it to examine how the text works and what it tells us. But, regarding the moral implications of the narrator's actions, it is never acceptable to feign madness to hide a terrible crime. Poe's use of the claim as a literary trope to create and maintain tension throughout the text is masterful and gives readers a penetrating exposé of the complexity of human nature.

    Answer: Unacceptable
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    Self-deceit can be incredibly unacceptable socially.

    Answer: Don't Know
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    It is always acceptable for a critic to posit a proposition about a work like this, then use it to examine how the text works and what it tells us. But, regarding the moral implications of the narrator's actions, it is never acceptable to feign madness to hide a terrible crime. Poe's use of the claim as a literary trope to create and maintain tension throughout the text is masterful and gives readers a penetrating exposé of the complexity of human nature.

    Answer: Don't Know
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    The acceptability of the lie would depend on the level of scrutiny and how much accuracy matters in a particular situation.

    Answer: Don't Know
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    It is always acceptable for a critic to posit a proposition about a work like this, then use it to examine how the text works and what it tells us. But, regarding the moral implications of the narrator's actions, it is never acceptable to feign madness to hide a terrible crime. Poe's use of the claim as a literary trope to create and maintain tension throughout the text is masterful and gives readers a penetrating exposé of the complexity of human nature.

    Answer:
    This is one judgement of the narrator's reliability, but there is evidence for many others.
    Answer Confidence: 95 %
    Supporting Text:
    The Tell-Tale Heart is an excellent example of how an iconic writer used a simple (but brilliantly written) short story to explore the indeterminacy language as an indicator of of human behavior.

    Answer:
    This is a case where self-deception to deceive others can lead to self-deception that destroys you.
    Answer Confidence: 100 %
    Supporting Text:
    A person who is not mad, but logical and transactional in self-deception and deception of others, can lead to self-deception which is madness.

    Answer:
    This is one judgement of the narrator's reliability, but there is evidence for many others.
    Answer Confidence: 95 %
    Supporting Text:
    The Tell-Tale Heart is an excellent example of how an iconic writer used a simple (but brilliantly written) short story to explore the indeterminacy language as an indicator of of human behavior.

    Answer:
    "subjective perspective" or "alternative interpretation"
    Answer Confidence: 90 %
    Supporting Text:
    This labeling acknowledges that the plaintiff is presenting their own interpretation of the story. It allows for discussion and exploration.

    Answer:
    This is one judgement of the narrator's reliability, but there is evidence for many others.
    Answer Confidence: 75 %
    Supporting Text:
    The Tell-Tale Heart is an excellent example of how an iconic writer used a simple (but brilliantly written) short story to explore the indeterminacy language as an indicator of of human behavior.