Explain the quote "A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused;..... premises."Explain those involved and the significance of this quote with...

Explain the quote "A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused;..... premises."

Explain those involved and the significance of this quote with reference to the narrative.

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After the narrator has murdered the old man whose eye has offended him to the point that he has felt he must be rid of it, he works to conceal the body by dismembering it and placing the parts under the flooring the the chamber.  As the four o'clock hour of the morning tolls, he finishes.  Then, there is a knock at his door; still, the narrator is not nervous because he feels he has nothing to fear.  Three policemen enter, reporting that there has been a report filed at the station that a shriek was heard, and they have come to investigate.

Cleverly, the narrator declares that he has cried out in a nightmare. Embellishing his story, he tells the policemen that the old man has gone to the country.  To lend verity his words, the narrator leads the police to the man's empty room where he also shows them his valuables lest they believe a thief has entered the house. Then, with great bravado, the narrator places chairs and invites them to sit and visit as he is "singularly at ease."  However, the narrator has discounted his conscience: 

But ere long I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone.  My head ached and I fancied a ringing in my ears. 

Significantly, it is then that the greater horror of the tale emerges.  For, Poe's narrator has descended into madness and the horror of his deed takes possession of his mind.  Thus, in the guilt and terror of his own madness, the narrator "hears" the beating of the old man's heart, an unrelenting beating that persists in his own mental torture,

Oh, God!  What could I do?....

"Villains!" I shrieked.  Disemble no more! I admit the deed!...."

In his insanity and psychological torment, Poe's narrator imagines that the policemen have acted in such a way as to induce him to confess his guilt and betray himself.

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