The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart book cover
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How does "The Tell-Tale Heart" represent a horror story?

How does "The Tell-Tale Heart" represent a horror story?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Poe utilizes various elements commonly found in horror stories to depict how a deranged murderer kills a helpless old man in the middle of the night and proceeds to dismember his body before eventually confessing his crime to authorities after experiencing overwhelming guilt. By making the mentally-unstable murderer the narrator of the story, Poe gives the reader access into the mind of a madman, who continually attempts to prove his own sanity as he recounts his horrifying tale. The narrator's dark diction, staccato sentences, and neurotic nature contribute to the eeriness of the story.

Poe includes numerous Gothic elements that contribute to the horror story genre, which include the ominous, threatening mood, the old man's Evil Eye, the brutal crime, the nighttime setting, and present element of fear throughout the story. Similar to many horror stories, the readers experience suspense and mystery as the narrator waits to attack the old man on the eighth night as he stands still in his...

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