How does Edgar Allan Poe keep the reader in suspense in The Tell-Tale Heart?

Expert Answers
Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ahhh...Poe is the master of suspense.  From the opening lines, the reader has a sense of foreboding.  S/he knows the old man is in danger and completely clueless as to the narrator's animosity towards him.  As the narrator describes his vigil waiting for the old man to finally slumber, our apprehension grows.  Even when he finally does the horrific deed, we are shocked by its senselessness and brutality. 

As with many of Poe's tales, there is no logical explanation for the unfolding of events, a fact with which the rational mind struggles; a fact which increases the horror of inexplicable inhumanity. 

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer below is really well put. I would like to add that Poe uses such thoughtful imagery and really appeals to his reader's senses in this story that we can almost hear the beating of the heart beneath the floor boards as the story is unfolding. Poe so closely connects us with his narrator and characters that we feel the suspense that it being felt in the story. We know that the end is getting closer, we go crazy as the character goes crazy. Poe's use of imagery and repetition in this story is what keeps us engaged until the confession!