In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, how did the police know to come to the old man's house?

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kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator, clearly succumbing to psychosis despite his vehement denials, plots the death of the old man, whose eye, he claims, became an obsession that haunted him nightly: “One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold.”  Convinced that the old man’s death was his only salvation, the narrator decides to sneak into the old man’s bedroom during the night and kill him in his sleep.  After seven nights of peering into the old man’s room while he slept, and secure in the knowledge that his plan would succeed, the narrator, on the eighth night, again peaked into the darkened bedroom to gaze upon his intended victim.  Only this night, the old man had been startled awake and the narrator’s light, instead of shining on the sleeping victim, shined instead on that deformed eye.  The narrator, however, driven increasingly insane by what he believes to be the sound of the old man’s heart beating, hurries into the room and suffocates his victim with the bedding.  It is during this process that the old man shriek’s in terror, and which leads to the arrival of the police:

“A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.”

The narrator, of course, feigns ignorance and, having concealed the dismembered remains of the old man under the floor boards, is confident that the police will not discover his crime, explaining the sound as the result of “my own in a dream.”

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rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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After the narrator murdered the man with the evil eye, it is said that a shriek was heard by a neighbor. The neighbor had notified the police of the shriek and they came to the house to check on things.

“A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.”

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zasmith001's profile pic

zasmith001 | eNotes Newbie

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There a passage that you should play close attention to. The passage is: 

“A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.”

From this statement we can gather that the police were tipped by a neighbor who heard the old man yell (shriek).  

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