"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story authored by Edgar Allan Poe in which the underlining theme of evil becomes contradictory. Throughout Poe's passages are various instances of the illogical and unreasonable. In particular, the evil is pointed out by the narrator as being a physical evil. However, progression of the story conveys an immediate contrast of a hidden inner evil.
Starting off the narrator claims his sanity, "You fancy me mad. But you should have seen me," (Poe 3). It becomes clear the narrator is defensive about himself and his condition. "But why will you say that I am mad?" is a statement that eludes recognition of his latter evil deeds as being an inner driving force (Poe 3). "If you still fancy me mad, you will think so no longer." Here lies yet another description of the narrator's defense proclaiming his sanity which was resounded even after killing the old man (Poe 6).
The physical evil as inferred by the narrator, has been blamed upon a single eye belonging to old man. The eye "haunted" the narrator "day and night" which ran his "blood cold" whenever it looked at him (Poe 3). "It was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye," (Poe 4). After the narrator's reinstatement of his aggravation, a new physical terror overcomes him. The beating of the old man's heart heightened the .
narrator's "fury" that excited him to "uncontrollable terror," (Poe 5). Not only does this old man have an evil eye, but an accursed heartbeat that "would be heard by the neighbors," (Poe 7). Both fully describe what the narrator contemplates as the physical evils that drove him to murder.
Interpreted from a different point of view is the supposition that the narrator's crime is truly caused from his own inner evil. He hears many things "acute" claiming to originate from both "heaven and hearth" which is obviously not something a normal person hears (Poe 3). The murder appears in many aspects as being premeditated as the narrator proceeds with "caution, foresight, and dissimulation," (Poe 3).