Who is the man behind the pen?

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.


The story told by a mad man has a dark visual with a perfect work of narration by James Mason. It is a UPA Production and was the first cartoon to be X-rated (adults only) in Great Britain under the British Board of Film Censors classification system.
~jmcusak, Youtube.


The story the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Alan Poe is one of his shortest stories. Classically writing dark, twisting stories, The Tell Tale Heart definitely follows Poe’s pattern. The story opens with the narrators ravings claiming that he is sane yet then goes on to describe how he methodologically stalked and murdered an old man. The narrator says that he has no grudge against the man, in fact he claims to "love" him, but he is deeply disturbed by an old man's glossy blue eye. The eye haunts him and drives him to do unthinkable things. He then stalks the man night after night for eight days and plans out his murder. This violence is the result of an insane man’s irrational fear. After he has buried the body in the floorboards and the guilt overwhelms him, he hears a heart beating louder and louder until his paranoia finally takes him over the edge he turns himself in.


Poe's story of the Tell Tale Heart brings the reader into the mind of a paranoid, obsessive, and mentally deteriorated person (it is never specified weather the narrator is male or female, but many assume that the narrator is a man). The story starts in the middle of the events that occurred and then the narrator takes it back to the beginning of the action that had taken place (i.e. the careful premeditated murder of the old man through the eyes of the narrator). Poe makes this one of his shortest works because he takes away all of the excess embellishment that usually characterizes his stories in order for the reader to see the narrators obsessive, paranoid, and malicious thoughts. The narrator lives in "his" own world, with his own twisted version of what is wrong and right. He is insistent, not of his innocence but of his sanity, which is quite ironic because in trying to prove his "sanity" he digs himself a deeper grave. Poe uses the heart to represent the narrator’s insanity and the growing guilt inside of him. After he has murdered the old man, he still hears the heart beating under the floor boards. Thus causing him give himself up in order to stop the thumping in his mind. Poe also uses repetition; "Oh, so cautiously--cautiously" in order to stress the narrator’s impulsive delusion and hysteria. His insanity caused him to finally snap, as you can see the narrator says, "Villains!" I shrieked, "Dissemble no more! I admit the deed!-- tear up the planks!-- here, here! it is the beating of his hideous heart!" and he goes on to say after has killed the old man, "If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body". He believes that his careful precautions, obsession, and heightened senses make him sane, yet ironically it just proves to the reader how warped his mind really is.


In Comparison to other works by Poe

Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart possesses an air of familirity with Poe’s other hauntingly resolute short stories and yet it is still original and individual. One of the major themes of the Tell Tale heart is sanity much like that of The Fall of the House of Usher. Though the narrator in the Tell Tale Heart is insistent that he is in fact quite sane, he uses the examples of his unusually heightened senses to "prove" to the reader his "sanity" where as Roderick Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher views his heightened sensitivity as proof of his mental deterioration. The narrator in Tell Tale Heart is not aware of his mental condition and views himself as mentally fit, he has his own logic and version of what is right and what is wrong, which is one of the reasons why he is able to so easily murder the old man in such a methodical and brutal way. In contrast Usher is aware of his gradual deterioration and openly acknowledges it through out the story. In The Tell Tale Heart there is less ambiguity then in some of Poe's other stories. In Fall of the House of Usher, the reader cannot be sure about what is real and what is not, where as in Tell Tale Heart the narrator is more clear, basically like an open book, giving the reader a detailed description of what actually occurs and what his thoughts are. It does not leave the reader with that many questions of the events that happened, the ambiguity in the story is rather lacking. Unlike in The Fall Of the House of Usher, where the reader finds himself with many questions (i.e. Is Usher really insane? Was Madeline really dead? Did Usher kill Madeline, Did Madeline kill Usher?). The only really ambiguous questions that Poe left in the story were the questions if the narrator is really male or female and what the relationship between the narrator and the old man was.

In Comparison to works by other authors

Both Hawthorne and Poe use symbolism. In Hawthorne’s story, "Young Goodman Brown", he uses fire, a stick that looks like a serpent, and Faith. The fires represent the flames of Hell and begin to appear at the beginning of the witch meeting. And the serpent represents deceit and evil. The eye in "The Tell Tale Heart" represents the natural fear of the unknown. The narrator does not really know what is going on with the eye. He says it is the “vulture eye” and he also mentions that no human eyes could ever see the evidence of the murder not even his, which implies that the narrator does not believe the eye is a human eye. The eye in the story also shows the battle between logic and emotion. The narrator visits the old man’s room every night for a week. But the old man is always sleeping, so the narrator cannot see the object of his fear. And when the fear is removed, the narrator is able to think logically. But the moment the old man opens his eyes, the narrator attacks him. On the other hand, Hawthorne’s "Young Goodman Brown" is about the battle between good and evil in society. So, Poe writes about the internal struggle and Hawthorne focuses on society.

Vocab from the text

Even though "The Tell Tale Heart" is one of Poe's less embellished short stories, there is still some vocabulary used that might confuse some people, hopefully this will clarify some of your questions on different word meanings.

Sagacity-acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment.

Triumph- the act, fact, or condition of being victorious or triumphant; victory; conquest.

Hearkening- to give heed or attention to what is said; listen.

Stifled- to quell, crush, or end by force

Bosom- the breast of a human being

Suppositions- the act of supposing.

Stealthily- done, characterized, or acting by stealth

Suavity- a suave or smoothly agreeable quality.

Deputed- to appoint as one's substitute, representative, or agent.

Definitiveness- most reliable or complete, as of a text, author, criticism, study, or the like

Dissemble- to give a false or misleading appearance to; conceal the truth or real nature of

Literary Terms
and Devices
Poe uses many literacy devices in The Tell Tale Heart. Below are quotes and definitions.
Assonance: Shared sound in a word
“I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth”
“I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed.”
Alliteration: Shared sound in the beginning of a word
Deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me”
Simile: A comparison using “like” or “as”
His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness
It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
Personification: Giving an inanimate object animate characteristics
All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim

Cites Used

Cites Used