The Tell Tale Heart Annotated

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“The Tell-Tale Heart,” contrary to popular belief, is not a madman’s confession to a crime, but rather a poorly put together defense arguing the narrator is not mad. Unlike a confession, the narrator never appears to display remorse for his actions. Instead, he continually emphasizes that he is not mad. Additionally, the narrator employs four of the six parts of a classical argument, a technique scarcely used in confessions. In a confession, one should feel remorse for their actions. However, in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator feels no such emotion. Instead, he is proud of himself for pulling off a murder so cleanly. Whilst recollecting the events, moments before he murders his companion, the narrator states “I could scarcely …show more content…

The narrator uses four of the six parts of a classical argument, and many other argumentative strategies, which suggests the narrator is attempting to persuade the listener/reader, not confess to them. The short-story starts off with an introduction similar to an argumentative introduction (the first part of a classical argument). The narrator supplies the audience with a praeparatio (Zimmerman), to explain the purpose of oncoming facts. The narrator also begins with a paromologia: “True! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am...” (Poe). This adds to the eunoia of his defense (Zimmerman). Next, the narrator uses narratio (the second part of a classical argument). Throughout the narratio, the narrator uses confirmatio and refutatio (the fourth and fifth parts of a classical argument). Every time the narrator interrupts the story, he states either how this disproves his madness, or suggests another explanation to this behavior. For example, in paragraph 3, the narrator interjects to say “Ha! — would a madman have been so wise as this?” (Poe). Here they used confirmatio; the narrator claims this evidence disproves that he is a madman. Later, in paragraph 10, the narrator interjects and says “And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?” (Poe). Here they used refutatio; the narrator claims their hypersensitivity explains their seemingly insane behavior in the upcoming

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