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In his 1885 study of Poe, George Woodbury considered "The Tell-Tale Heart" no more than "a tale of conscience." While subsequent critics have found much more to Poe's story than this, they do acknowledge, nevertheless, that the element of conscience is what brings the narrator to his confession. Significantly, then, Poe's title "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a double entendre: The heart of the old man whose eye has offended the narrator continues to beat loudly enough to be a tell-tale, or a "tattle-tell" and reveal his body's presence; and, when the police come to inspect, the narrator's conscience, or the heart of the narrator, causes him to confess his dastardly deed; hence, "no sin goes unpunished."
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