Ambiguity In The Tell-Tale Heart By Edgar Allan Poe

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“TRUE! -- nervous -- very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”(Poe 1) Conflict has been a part of our lives since our first breath, and will continue to be until our last. In the short story The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, we are exposed to three different and complex types of conflict; Man v. Man, Man v. Society, Man v. Himself. Poe uses these conflicts coupled with ambiguity to arouse an intricate type of fear in the reader, while shining a light on real world issues. In an effort to prove his sanity, the narrator tells his story of murder, “Hearken! And observe how healthily -- how calmly I can tell you the whole story.”(Poe 1) In Poe’s story the most obvious conflict is between the …show more content…
The story begins in what we can assume to be a jail, a hospital, or possibly a witness stand in a courtroom. Although no other character is introduced in the first paragraph, the narrator begins by answering a question. It is because of this ambiguity that we can assume that the narrator may be answering a question asked by him in an effort to convince himself of his sanity. Just like the beating of the dead man’s heart was all in the narrator’s mind, the whole story may be the internal conflict of a madman. “But why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses -- not destroyed -- not dulled them.”(Poe 1) This quote demonstrates the reasoning behind the narrator’s justification of his sanity. He believes that in order for him to be insane his senses must be dulled or deteriorating, so how can he be mad if he could pull off such an elaborate crime. By illustrating the internal conflict of the narrator, Poe addresses a popular question that we may never know the answer to. Do insane people know they are insane? According to Poe, they don’t Even though The tell-Tale Heart was written in the 1800’s it is easy to relate to it today. With the use of conflict and ambiguity, Poe has created a masterpiece that has and will stand the test of time. His use of conflict will forever be relatable, and his use of ambiguity will forever be open to interpretation. “here, here! --it is the beating of his hideous heart!” (Poe

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