Death Penalty In The Tell Tale Heart

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Calculated killer or merely delusional? “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe describes a horror story where a killer kills an old man. In this story, the reader is given a first-row tour through a madman’s mind. In an innocent setting at the old man’s house, the madman’s obsession over the old man’s “vulture eye” (Poe, 1843) leads to a cruel murder that is spread out between eight nights. Based on mitigating and aggravating evidence stated in the story and the Eighth Amendment, this killer should be eligible for both a psychiatric hospital and the death penalty. To begin, the mitigating evidence was very clear about the killer’s mental instability. As said in this quote, “The disease… I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth.…show more content…
To some readers, that is exactly the reason why they think the insane killer should be safe from the death penalty. But is that really the case? Is the killer simply an insane killer? One may think that while he is mentally insane, he is also a calculated killer. As stated in this quote, “I put in a dark lantern… then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in… It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening…,” (Poe, 1843) the killer seems to have a great amount of control for a mere madman. To someone who was completely mad, what this killer did would have been insanely difficult to do. But this would have been the impossible test: the killer did this for seven nights, and only on the eighth night did he finally strike. From this piece of evidence, it is obvious that this killer is more than just a madman, and may instead be a calculated killer. This leads us into discussing the possibility of the killer not being eligible for the protection of the Eighth Amendment but being eligible for the death…show more content…
Not only did this killer kill the old man, he was cruel and cold at heart. This can be seen in this quote, “I heard a slight groan… it was the groan of mortal terror… dreadful echo, the terrors… I knew what the old man felt… I chuckled at heart.” (Poe, 1843) The killer knew what the old man was experiencing, even had empathy for him in his mind, but at heart, he was enjoying the old man’s pain. Another disturbing quote in the story that showcases the cruelty in the killer is the following, “I then smiled gaily… First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.” As if killing the old man was not enough, the killer had to cut the corpse into pieces. Some people may think that such a person cannot be changed, and has to be stopped before they can proceed to hurt
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