[2015] Edrea Low: The Tell - Tale Heart

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[2015] Edrea Low: The Tell - Tale Heart

Edrea Low

The Tell-Tale Heart revolves around a man who is on the verge of madness due to an unknown disease. The main conflict is internal - the narrator v.s. his mind. Throughout the story, the main character suffers from the depths of his insane head. The story first starts out when the main character is stalking and planning to murder an innocent man because of his “evil eye”. The narrator says,“He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold”. The main character hated the man’s eye, so he planned to get rid of it by killing the old man. Every night, the main character would crack open the door to peek at the old man, but his eye was always closed, so the narrator would not have a reason to kill him. The narrator says, “And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it --oh so gently!” This shows how careful he is. On the eighth night, however, he accidentally makes a sound, and the old man realises that he is not alone. When the narrator looks at the old man, his eye is wide open. The main character claims,“It was open --wide, wide open --and I grew furious as I gazed upon it”. This gave the narrator a reason to hate the old man, and to kill him. The narrator kills the old man and hides his remains under the planks. Later, police officers come to his house to investigate a shriek (the old man’s) that was heard by a neighbor during the night. After searching, the officers were satisfied and convinced that the old man was not harmed. However, the narrator starts to hear a ringing in his ears. The noise began to grow louder and louder. The main character says, “I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder --louder --louder! ” Finally, unable to stand it, the narrator admits he killed the old man in order to end the beating of his heart.

The story is told by the main character, who is referred to as “I”. The story is told in the first person point of view. The author made the main character narrate the story so that you can experience what he feels, thinks, and believes. The main character said, “TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” You can tell how he feels and what he believes through this sentence. He feels very nervous and believes that he is not insane - he is even trying to convince the listener that he is not mad.

Point of View

The Tell-Tale Heart


There are two main characters in The Tell-Tale Heart. One is the main character, who is addressed using “I”. Edgar Allan Poe never once tells you the character’s real name. This character gives you numerous reasons to question his sanity throughout the story. The character says, “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this!”. To decide to kill someone - someone who has been kind to you - for a simple reason like that is definitely a reason to question his/her sanity. Also, in the beginning of the story, the character says “The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them.” This sentence tells us that his actions are an outcome a disease. The second character is the old man. The main character, who is the narrator, does not tell you his real name. The author does not mention much information about him. The narrator claims, “He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it.“ The narrator hated the old man’s eye, and decided to take the old man’s life because of it.


The mood of the story is suspense and madness. When the main character tries to kill the old man, the story manages to keep you on you toes, making you continue reading out of curiosity of what is going to happen. The narrator says, “His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.” By this sentence, you know something is about to happen and suspense hangs in the air. Madness is also another theme in this story. The main character says “To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea...”. The fact that he is gleeful about getting away with killing someone is certainly a reason to question his sanity.


The theme for The Tell-Tale Heart is that sometimes when you do something bad, the human heart will tell you that what you did was wrong, even if you don’t care about whether what you did was the right thing or not. The main character says, “But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears...”. He felt these conditions after he had killed the old man. In his case, this is how his body tells him what he did was not right. The sound that he’s feeling are the effects of guilt while he descends into madness.

The Tell-Tale Heart and A Sound of Thunder are both similar and different. Both stories do not end well for the main characters. In The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator says, “Villians! Dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!" The narrator admits his crime and probably ends up in jail for killing the old man. In A Sound of Thunder, Ray Bradbury tells us that “He did not move. Eyes shut, he waited, shivering. He heard Travis breathe loud in the room; he heard Travis shift his rifle, click the safety catch, and raise the weapon. There was a sound of thunder.” This means that the character, Eckels, probably died because he accidentally changed the future by killing a butterfly in the past. The two stories are also quite different. In A Sound of Thunder, when Eckels saw the dinosaur, he grew afraid of it, despite thinking that he would kill it before they time travelled. He says, “We were fools to come. This is impossible.” From these words, you can tell that he loses faith in himself when the task seems impossible. However, in The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator tries to achieve his goal by killing the old man and getting rid of the eye. The narrator says, “The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room.” This shows that the narrator does not back down even if he is nervous.

Compare and Contrast




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