The Tell-Tale Heart Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart book cover
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In Edgar Poe's story,The Tell-Tale Heart, the main character seems like a deranged individual.  He says "a watch's hand moves more quickly than did mine."  What  do you think he means by this this?  Why does he constantly refer to the "watch" ? Point out other areas of the text where Poe  uses words to emphasize his feelings. How is the theme reflected in this short story; does it relate to the conflict?  How does Poe's writing style draws the reader into his world?

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If the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” seems like “a deranged individual,” it is probably because he is. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” one could suggest that Poe’s narrator “doth protest too much.” The opening line “The Tell-Tale Heart” begins with an excited plea to be taken seriously and not to be considered deranged:

“True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease has sharpened my senses – not destroyed – not dulled them. . .How, then, am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthily – how calmly I can tell you the whole story.”

With this opening, the narrator intends to demonstrate through his acute sense of hearing and through the meticulousness of his actions that he cannot possibly be anything other than perfectly sane. His story, however, forces the reader, of course, to conclude otherwise. It is that very meticulousness that serves to...

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