The Tell-Tale Heart


TheTell-Tale Heart

Thepoem is opened up by an unnamed narrator who addresses the readerwhere he claims that he felt a bit nervous but emphasizes that he wasnot insane. He gets into details and states that he could narrate astory which could defend his sanity but makes a confession of havingkilled the old man. The narrator had no desire or passion for money,but rather he only feared the pale blue eye of the man. On adifferent perspective, narrator insisted that he was very soundminded since his current measured actions do not concede with thoseof a madman, but he admits he is a criminal. This essay outlinesdifferent themes which have been used by the narrator. Some of theminclude the theme of madness where narrator claims that he was notmad, the theme of evil and murder. The narrator has used otherelements such as the foreshadowing in his creative work of the poem.

Whilebringing out the theme of murder, the narrator is seen getting intothe old man’s apartment every night where he carefully and secretlyobserved the old man sleeping without being disturbed by any externalforce. Every morning after careful observations at night, he couldassume and behaves as if everything was running normally or as usual.After having observed the old man for a week, the narrator made uphis mind and decides to take action of killing this old man. Thenarrator gets into the old man’s room during the eight nights wherehe harasses him as the old man cries out for help. The old man seemsto be afraid since he had also experienced the night’s lonelyterror. The narrator was able to hear a dull pounding which heinterpreted as the terrified heartbeat of the old man. For havingbeen worried that some neighbors could be in a position to listen tothe loud muffled sounds, he hurriedly attacked and killed the old manand dismembered his body parts and hides them in the bedroom belowthe floorboards.

Again,the theme of evil has also been clearly shown in the narrative. Themadman or narrator hates the pale blue eyes of the old man. Thenarrator sees both the man and his eye as completely different thingswhere he finds himself killing him while claiming that he had muchagape love for him. The desire of narrator to get rid with man’seye motivated and activated his murder, but he does not acknowledgethat in doing so, he could claim the man’s life. This act showsmuch evil which narrator had even though he claimed he was of soundmind.

Thewhole story that was narrated showed a madness theme being thebackbone of most happenings in the story. From the beginning of thenarrative, narrator acts in a way that showed he looked mad or insaneyet he claimed he was sober. Before attacking the old man, he heardsome interruptions where he concluded that the sounds were terrifiedold man’s heartbeat. What made narrator mad was that after killingthis old man because of his obsessed eye, he separated the old man’sbody from the rest of the body by turning him into many differentparts and later hides them in the bedroom. He also imagined that theother parts of the old man’s body were working against him whichleft him much scared. Other elements have been outlined in the story,but much emphasizes been laid on themes since they carried the wholebody of narration.


AndrewBeatty. (2012). : The Conversion and Emotion inNias. Ethnos. 295-320.

The Tell-Tale Heart

In the Short Story “The Tell- Tale Heart” (1843), Edgar AllanPoe tells a confessional tale about a madman murders an old man outof his insanity. The storyteller attempts to defend his sanity but itis apparent he is a cunning man who builds his defenses before theadmission of crime. He admits the reasons for killing the elderly manwas because he looked at him perpetually with what the storytellerassumes were an evil eye. A series of events manifest for instancethe narrator watches the man at night until he ultimately murders himon the eighth night. The man appears to be jolted back to reality butwhat he thought was the old man’s incessant heart pounding promptedhim to kill him out of the fear of being discovered.

The police officers who come to investigate the crime after beingcalled by the neighbor do not unearth the offense because thenarrator acts normal. For instance, “The officers were satisfied,My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat,and, while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things (Poe717).” However, the narrator confesses to the crime when he hearsthe thumping sound again. He screams and informs the police officersto check for the body in the floorboards. Ultimately, readers canidentify the narrator’s madness from his actions and words.Therefore, it is evident that the narrator was mentally indisposedbecause he could not have murdered the elderly neighbor solely on thebasis of the evil eye.

There are several literary themes is this short story. First of all,there is the theme of madness as evidenced by the narrator`sobsession with an eye. Additionally, the narrator shows his madnessby hearing imaginary sounds such as the pounding of the old man`sheart. Second, there is the theme of evil as exemplified by thenarrator`s hatred for the old man`s eye without any apparent reason.Similarly, there is the theme of murder. The narrator decides to killthe elderly man and hides his dismembered body in the planks. Cuppingthe body of the dead is the ultimate sign of the narrator`s madness.However, the narrator emerges as a cunning character that can confessto a crime and prove he is mad but still insist on his sanity.

There are several literary elements in this story structure. Firstof all, there is the element of the first person point of view andthe use of the past tense. Similarly, the author uses punctuationmarks to increase the pace of the story and heighten suspense. Theuse of words is economical because of the length of the narration.The writer uses similes such as comparing a ray of light to a pocketand the beating watch or beating the drum. There is evidence offoreshadowing, where the beating heart implies something evil isabout to manifest. The sound of the man`s shriek portents the murder.The story’s setting puts it in the context of the years 1820, 1823,and 1830. The period marked the advent of Gothic literature. Thegenre rose at the same time in Romanticism arose in Britain. Theoverriding themes in Gothic literature were alienation, death,haunted landscapes, and ghosts. Essentially, the genre examines thelives of characters afflicted with melancholy and insanity as thenarrator in the short story shows.

Work Cited

Poe, Edgar Allan. “.” 1843. Print.