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What is the theme for  "The Tell-Tale Heart?"

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dpocaigue | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM via web

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What is the theme for  "The Tell-Tale Heart?"

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spottedslinky | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 8, 2008 at 11:02 AM (Answer #1)

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The thematic subject may be guilt, but the theme is that the human heart cannot endure the burden of guilt, especially in the case of murder. The guilty must confess somehow or be consumed by his/her conscience.

Hint: Whenever you are looking for the theme in a story, ask yourself, what idea about life comes to my mind after reading this story? Or, is there some kind of lesson learned by any of the characters? Usually, the theme can be applied to more than just the story.

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chi-teach | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 8, 2008 at 9:42 AM (Answer #2)

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The theme is guilt.  The major symbol is the beating heart.  Poe chooses a heartbeat because it is human and maddengly persistant.

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stanleyyang01 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 8, 2012 at 8:13 AM (Answer #3)

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Guilt

The answer was giult because he liked the old man and didn't want to hurt him at all but he hated his eye, when he figured that the only way to get rid of the eye was to kill the old man he didn't hesitate. after he was finish of his job, he was free of the eye but the old man he figured was dead. Then the police came and he got nervous and blurted things out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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doctorlion | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 1, 2012 at 10:42 PM (Answer #4)

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Love and Hate.

The narrator confesses his love for the old man whom he then violently murders and dismembers. The narrator reveals his madness by attempting to separate the person of the old man, whom he loves, from the old man's evil eye,which triggers the narrator's hatred. This delusional separation enables the narrator to remain unaware of the paradox of claiming to have loved his victim.

And Guilt.

 

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lindsaylax | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 1, 2012 at 9:57 PM (Answer #5)

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The theme of Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Tell Tale Heart" would most definitly be guilt of the narrator. The story is about a mad man who, after killing the old man he watches over, hears an interminable heartbeat and releases his overwhelming sense of guilt by shouting his confession to the police. The human heart cannon stand the burden of guilt, especially in the case of murder. Guilty people must confess somehow or be consumed by their own conscience. 

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 19, 2012 at 3:12 PM (Answer #6)

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One of the major themes in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the effects of guilt or conscience and the descent into madness.  In the story, the narrator’s sanity is definitely in question.  He kills the old man because of his “evil eye” but then feels guilty about it.

The story depicts a rapid devolving of the narrator’s psyche.  At first he is very proud of himself, and considers himself very clever to have gotten away with the murder.  When the police arrive, he coolly tells them there is nothing wrong, then leads them into the old man’s room.

In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim. (p. 6)

However, his confidence gets the better of him.  While he is in that room, his guilty conscience starts to bother him.  He begins to imagine that the old man’s heart is still beating.

But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears… (p. 6)

The ringing in his ears represents his conscience, and his growing mental instability.

It was a low, dull, quick sound—much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath—and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly—more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. (p. 6)

The narrator begins to act more and more erratically, arguing “about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations” (p. 6)

Ultimately, it becomes obvious that the narrator is losing his mind, and it might have been clear to the police all along—why else would they stay and talk about nothing?

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks! here, here!—It is the beating of his hideous heart!” (p. 6)

 

Quotes from: http://www.enotes.com/tell-tale-heart-text

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM (Answer #7)

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"The Tell-Tale Heart" is what is generally called a perfect-crime story. In this extremely common genre a man or woman commits what he or she considers a perfect crime, usually a murder, but some little clue gives the murderer away. This formula was used in the old radio shows for many years, and then used in television shows. It was used repeatedly in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on television and later on the highly successful show "Columbo," starring Peter Falk. The theme of most perfect-crime stories is "There is no such thing as a perfect crime," or it might be stated as "Murder will out." Poe wrote several perfect-crime stories in which the murderer is caught because of something he overlooked, but he also wrote one perfect-crime story in which the murderer actually gets away with it. That was "The Cask of Amontillado." Editors in Poe's day would not accept a murder story in which the murderer was successful, but Poe was able to publish "The Cask of Amontillado" because he set it in a foreign country in the distant past. Anyway, the theme of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is "There is no such thing as a perfect crime."

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atticus-finch | Student | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted March 20, 2013 at 4:02 PM (Answer #10)

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The theme, or moral, to this story is everyone has guilt. It can also be that someone can do something completeley horrendous and have no reason for it."Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire."

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joannvac | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 30, 2014 at 3:34 PM (Answer #11)

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One theme is : "A guilty conscience can get the best of a person".  This is supported by the resolution of the story where the narrator confesses to killing the old man. We know he has a guilty conscience because he can still hear the old man's heart beating even after he is dead.

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mazelog | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 3, 2011 at 10:20 PM (Answer #8)

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Guilt is by far the best answer

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sophiacozzo | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:43 AM (Answer #9)

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the theme of the story is that people have a wicked/bad side- another self- that can make people commit evil acts that have no apperent/ obvious motive!!! hope it helps!!

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