The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Discuss the contrast in tone and plot between Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" and Virginia Woolf's "A Haunted House."

Expert Answers info

Margarete Abshire eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write977 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Both stories share many elements, but their overall effects are quite different.

1. Both stories share the element of being watched. In the Poe story, it is the "vulture" eye of the old man that triggers the narrator to murder; in the Woolf story, the ghostly couple search for a "treasure" throughout the house, ending with their watching of the sleeping couple in the bed.

2. Both stories are about houses that hold a secret. In the Poe story, it is corpse of the old man hidden under the floorboards. In the Woolf story, there is a similar mysterious "treasure" that the ghosts seek.

3. Both stories create a tone of paranoia. In the Poe story, the narrator's dread of the old man's eye becomes a kind of mental illness. In the Woolf story, the paranoia has less to do with the characters in the story than in the reader; absent any clear sense of what the ghosts are doing, the reader is tempted to "fill in the blanks" with what the ghosts might be doing.

Ultimately, Woolf's story is significantly...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 628 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Tressa Beahan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write591 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial