illustration of a human heart lying on black floorboards

The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe
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How does the title, "The Tell-Tale Heart," relate to content or moral of Poe's story?

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In his story, Edgar Allan Poe created the perfect symbolic meaning and central focus in the title, “The Tell-Tale Heart .” The murderer is so plagued by his transgression that he becomes obsessed with the body he buried and begins to succumb to hallucinations. As such, the heart that...

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In his story, Edgar Allan Poe created the perfect symbolic meaning and central focus in the title, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The murderer is so plagued by his transgression that he becomes obsessed with the body he buried and begins to succumb to hallucinations. As such, the heart that he imagines still beating in the chest of the victim he buried under his floor boards.

The heart, however, does not only “tell” the police that the protagonist is guilty; it also tells the reader that he is mentally profoundly unhinged.

The first-person narrator keeps telling the reader that he is not “mad” and proceeds to explain the “wise” precautions he took, first for murdering an old man that did nothing beyond having a cataract eye to scare the protagonist, and second for concealing the murder.

His own guilty conscience, however, and one might even say what remains of his sanity, finally tells its tale in the form of a heart that beats only in his broken mind.

 

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