A brief synopsis of the plot/content of the Tell-Tale Heart.

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tmcquade | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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"The Tell Tale Heart" tells the story of one man's murderous hatred and another's untimely demise.

In the exposition, the reader learns that the unnamed narrator lives with an old man and acts "nice" to him, but actually detests him because of his 'evil eye" (which is really just an eye with a cataract over it).  The narrator also "talks" to the reader, saying he will prove that he was not "mad" when he performed the actions he is about to describe.

In the narrative hook, the reader learns that the narrator plans to kills the old man to "rid himself of the eye forever." 

For several nights during the rising action, the narrator goes up to the old man's room, but each night he is sleeping, and the narrator therefore cannot convince himself to go ahead with his dastardly plan.  Finally, on the eighth night, the old man is awake, and the narrator shines his light on the "evil eye," inspiring him to go ahead with his plan.  He stands there frozen for an hour before he finally takes action.  In the climax, believing he hears the old man's heart beat and fearing that it will wake the neighbors, he commits the murderous deed.

Not only does he kill the old man, but he dismembers him and puts his body parts beneath the floorboards in the falling action.  He also answers a knock at the door to find some policemen standing there, having been called by neightbors who heard a scream.  He invites the policement inside, feeling confident they will find nothing - even inviting into the room where he committed the murder and inviting them to sit there for a conversation.

In the resolution, the narrator's madness and guilt overtake him. Believing he once again hears the old man's heart beating (though it is really just his own), he "admit(s) the deed" and pulls up the planks, revealing the old man's didmembered body to the stunned police officers.

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