Nicole Cerniglia

Mr. Riccuiti
H College English – 3
22 October 2014
Psychoanalysis of The Tell-Tale Heart
By solely reading a text, one can often find it difficult to learn about a character other
than what is stated in the work. However, through the use of psychoanalysis, one is able to
uncover the unconscious thoughts of the author and/or his or her characters. The psychoanalytic
theory provides insight into the beliefs of individuals, and can also give reasoning behind certain
behaviors. In the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the unconscious
thoughts of the main character can be revealed through the use of psychoanalysis.
The statements made by the main character in the text and the behaviors he recounts are
extremely contradictory. The man states “How, then, am I mad? … Observe how healthily –
how calmly I can tell you the whole story” (Poe 3). He then continues on to explain the actions
he took to brutally murder an innocent man, an “accomplishment” he took pride in. These
statements clearly deny each other – a man who is not crazy would not spontaneously kill his
neighbor. Under examination by the use of the psychoanalytic theory, the character‟s Id is
brought to light and it becomes apparent that there is something psychologically wrong with this
man. Also, by exclaiming “the old man‟s terror must have been extreme!” (Poe 6) shows the
reader that this character found satisfaction by instilling fear in the innocent old man. This not
only shows that the psychological being of the main character is severely corrupted, but also that
his perception of reality, or his Ego, is tainted. These characteristics are unlikely to be noticed
by reading alone, and the use of psychoanalysis allows these and the unconscious thoughts of the
main character to be apparent and understood.

as he sees possession of a bothersome physical characteristic as a plausible reason to murder someone. The use of psychoanalysis to uncover the unconscious of the main character is exemplified when his reasoning to the murder of the old man was his „vulture-like eye. shows that this man finds contentment with an action that is realistically troubling and unacceptable.‟ “I loved the old man. are revealed throughout the text through the use of psychoanalytic theory. Analysis of this claim. everyday man.Further examination of The Tell-Tale Heart provides evidence of the main character‟s unstable mental state. along with the inclusion of ones own psychological norms. The main character has a clear lack of repression. For his gold I had no desire. The man claims that he “dismembered the corpse” and “cut off the head and the arms and the legs” (Poe 7). He had never given me insult. He had never wronged me. and it is apparent that he thinks of himself as an average. which gives the reader an opportunity to deeply psychoanalyze his behaviors and beliefs.” . The relaxed and unaffected style of the man‟s storytelling makes it evident that he is psychologically unstable. I think it was his eye! … I made up my mind to take the life of the old man. The psychological being. as well as unconscious ideas. “The Tell-Tale Heart. Sigmund Freud‟s psychoanalytic theory allows one to receive a distinct understanding of the Id and Superego of the main character in Edgar Allan Poe‟s short story. and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe 3) shows the deep contortion in the mans thinking.