The Tell-Tale Heart by Edger Allen Poe
About the Author | Edger Allen Poe
E. A. Poe a.k.a. Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 07, 1849) is considered one of the most accomplished short story writers of the early 19th century. His early childhood had not been too much happy as his mother died when he was only two.
He was adopted by one of his well-to-do relatives, Mr. and Mrs. John Allan. Poe got his education in fairly well-established schools in England, He learnt French and Latin from there. He showed great talent in these languages.
He went to America afterward and joined the University of Virginia but he could not complete his education due to being alcoholic.Poe also joined the American army in 1827 but he was dismissed due to the dereliction from his duties.
It was the time when he began to focus on his writing career. He struggled hard to reach an optimum level of literary success. First, he did some poetry but with no critical acclaim from the literary circles.
The ’30s brought literary success for him and he published his first detective story named “The Murders at the Rue Morgue.” His short stories are famous for true-to-life descriptions and the themes of suspense, thrill, gore, and death. He died in very mysterious circumstances in 1849.
Summary | The Tale-Tell Heart
The story began with a man trying to convince someone that he was not mad or abnormal. He was also the narrator of this story. He was nervous and denying the fact that he was insane. He said that he was going to tell a story in which he would defend his sanity.
The narrator of this story had killed an old man. His killing the old man was neither passion nor desire for money, but a fear of the man’s pale blue eye. Again, he insisted that he was not crazy because his cool and measured actions, though criminal, were not those of a madman.
At night, he started visiting the old man’s house and secretly watched him sleeping. But in the morning, he behaved as if everything was normal. A week was spent in this activity and the narrator decided, somewhat that the time was right to kill the old man.
The narrator arrived late on the eighth night. The old man woke up and cried out. The narrator got how the old man was, having also experienced the lonely terrors of the night. Soon, the narrator heard a dull pounding that he interpreted as the old man’s terrified heartbeat.
Finally his hand fumbled and a bit of light was uncovered from the lantern. The light poured directly on the old man’s eye. The sight of his eye infuriated him so that he ran at the old man, grabbed his legs, and pulled him Off the bed. The old man screamed in terror.
The narrator jumped and smothered him, old man, beneath the bed. The old man died because of suffocation. He then cut the old man’s head and limbs off and put his body under the floorboards in the same room.
He sat there for a moment in satisfaction of how cunningly he took care of the and that he was finally free from the evil eye of the old man. At the same time, the narrator heard a knock at the street door. Three police officers had arrived, having been called by a who heard the shriek of the old man.
The narrator was careful to be chatty and to appear normal. The killer led the police officers all over the house without acting. At the height of his over-confidence, he even brought them into the old man’s bedroom to sit down and talk at the scene of the crime. The policemen did not suspect a thing.
The narrator was until he started to hear a low thumping sound. He identified the low sound as the heart of the old man pounding away beneath the floorboards. The killer thought that the policemen must have also heard the sound and knew his guilt.
Driven mad by the idea that they were mocking his agony with their pleasant chatter. He admitted the crime and told the policemen to tear up the planks to show the dead body of the old man. He said, here was the beating of his heart.
Critical Aspects of the Story
Significance of the title
The Tell-Tale Heart is highly suggested. Tell-Tale Heart means the feelings that the old man’s heart has to the narrate through its beatings. The heartbeats were heard by him at two important stages. The first stage was when the narrator went to the old man’s house on the eighth night of his visit.
He wrongly felt that the beatings of his heart were telling him to go and kill the old man. So he killed him. In fact, they were telling him not to murder him. Secondly, when the three police officers arrived, the narrator again began to hear the old man’s heartbeats.
He sat with the police officers at the very place where he had buried the old man’s part of the body. He felt that the heart-beats were asking him to tell them about the murder. He had the right feeling then. So he admitted before the police that he had murdered the old man.
In reality, the heartbeats of the old man symbolized the narrator’s psychological condition. They were the prick of his conscience: They were the good angel. In reality, they were stopping him from murder.
The theme of the story
In this story, Edgar Allen Poe tries to prove that it is difficult for any person to suppress the voice of conscience after committing a sin. Though it is very faint in the beginning it grows louder, ultimately overpower him. It never stops to vex him till he has confessed his guilt.
Symbolic purpose of the eye
The narrator revealed his inability to recognize that the eye is the l, or identity of the old man. The eyes delineate the essence of human identity, which cannot be parted from the body. The eye cannot be killed without causing the man to die.
He got rid of the old man’s eye but not of his own disease. The vulture eye of the old man proved a real curse for him. Firstly it tortured him mentally and after the death of the old man, it proved a curse for him.
The ironic situation in the story
The ironic situation arises in the story when the criminal himself spends all his logical ability to prove that he is the murderer and not a mad man, but the police officers and the readers do not believe him.
They simply consider him a mad man making tall claims of his audacity, describing unnecessary details of the process and the long duration of seven nights he spent to execute the process of murder.
Flaws in the Plot
If we read the story critically, we can find many flaws in the construction of the plot of this story. Firstly, the murderer wanted to kill the old man because he did not like his vulture eye. So instead of killing the old man, he could easily shift himself to some other place.
But he did not do so. Secondly, he visited regularly seven nights in the house of the old man and returned without killing him. Why did the good sense not prevail upon him during that week?.
Thirdly, when the officers came and him about the Old man, they easily became satisfied to hear from the murderer that he himself uttered the shriek in his nightmare. Why did they easily believe that the old man had gone to the countryside?
Important Questions and their Answers
What is the basic theme of this story? Elaborate.
The theme of The Tell-Tale Heart is that human nature is a balance of light and dark or good and evil. Most of the time this is maintained. However, when there is a change, for any reason, the dark or evil side emerges.
There may be two important themes. The first is a crime in society, committed by psychopaths like the narrator. These people have no strict economic selfish motives to commit murders or cause a disturbance.
It is the development of their minds and feelings along certain lines that turn them into dangerous criminals. In the story, it was the unlucky old man’s eye that was the target of the abnormal narrator.
Secondly, the narrator chose to kill the old man instead of destroying or gouging his undesirable eye with his thumb or some instrument.. The loud heartbeat was the voice of his conscience that kept the narrator in agony.
The narrator confessed his love for an old man whom he had violently murdered and dismembered. On the other hand, a person is not allowed to kill the other without any reason.
If he kills him, God punishes him on the spot. As in the story, the murderer felt the prick of conscience until he confessed his crime in front of the police officers;
l shrieked, disassembled no more! I admit the deed!- tear up the planks!-here, here!-it is the beating of his hideous heart. After that, he was released (Golfi) from his disease.
The narrator in Tell-Tale Heart is a creative artist? Support or refute
Why did the killer confess his crime towards the end?
At the very start of this story, the narrator says The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. In my opinion, this is the statement, because he believed that he was an asset to the situation.
While it brought about his downfall. At the beginning of the story, the killer was very nervous. We find him sensitive. We see that after committing the crime he was quite satisfied and proud of his work.
No doubt he took all the necessary precautions and pretended to be innocent, but he could not escape from the prick of conscience. It is generally observed that whenever a person tries to commit any sin, his conscience rebukes him, It depends on him whether he commits sin or not.
Same as the killer hid his act of killing and the corpse of the old man from the police but his own conscience betrayed him and even he confessed his crime. Even though he killed the old man but his conscience tortured him until he justifies his crime.
But anything was better than his agony!….. I felt that I must scream or die.
The Tell-Tate Heart is full of horror and suspense. Discuss.
Discuss The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, as a horror story.
The Tell-Tale Heart is a horror story. Edgar Allan Poe has successfully created an atmosphere of fear and suspense. The vulture eye of the old man has been described fearfully. The abnormal behavior of the murderer and finally, the murder of the old man was enough to make the story horrible.
The careful and clever planning of the cold murder makes our blood freeze with fear. Another factor made it a horror story. The murderer seemed to have no real motive to kill an innocent old man. He said that the old man had never annoyed or insulted him.
It was only his pale-blue eye with a film over it that he wanted to kill him. He believed that it was an evil eye. It irritated him so much that he made up his mind to get rid of it. The reader finds himself in the grip of uncertainty and fears.
He believes that a dreadful and disastrous action is going to take place. Careful, silent, and tactful planning and execution of murder make the story very dreadful. We feel that we are watching a mysterious detective full of horror and action.
Why and how did Edgar Allen Poe murderer the old man?
How was the crime of the killer revealed in the story The Tell-Tale
There seems no motive for the killer to kill an old man. The old man had never done any wrong to him. Even the narrator loved and sympathized with the old man. The narrator had no interest in the old man’s belongings and possessions.
The only vexing and irritating thing of the old man was his vulture eye with a film of pale blue colour. He took the vulture eye as the most abominable object that seemed to cast an evil charm on him, making his blood cold.
He was afraid of an eye and it became an object of hatred which he could no longer withstand. The motive cannot be justified in any way, not as a genuine basis to eliminate an innocent person.
The killer had most immaculate steps to kill the man, by undergoing a strenuous home-work and exercise for seven long nights. On 8th night he dragged the old man and his long shriek of fear by pulling the burden off the bed until he was died.
He concealed the dead body by tearing off the three planks of the flooring and hid the parts of the corpse. The killer admired himself for the skillful murder with all the care and precautions.
Discuss the character sketch of the killer.
The narrator of the story was the killer. He was a little bit mad. He explained that he had no personal enmity against the old man. He had no desire for money. They lived in the same building. They were good friends.
He simply hated his eye, which was pale blue with a film over it. It resembled the eye of a vulture. He was a psychological case. The killer was a very sharp-minded person. He made a very accurate plan to kill the old man.
He entered the room of the old man very cleverly. He threw a dim light on the eyes of the old man. Seven nights he found the eyes of the old man closed. On the eighth night the old man awoke and the narrator killed him.
The narrator killed the old man in a callous manner. He tortured the old man and then killed him. After the death of the old man, he cut off the corpse into pieces. After some time police came. They were suspicious about the manner of the killer.
They searched for the old man in his house but could not find him. Later the killer listened to the sound of the beating of the heart of the old man. He became abnormal. He confessed his crime in front of the police. He wanted to get rid of the old man’s eye but could not of his own disease.