The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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In the beginning of "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator says that his sense of hearing is the most acute. How does this acute sense of hearing later become unbearable and lead him to confess his guilt?

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In Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator tells the reader that due to his nervous condition, his senses are necessarily heightened. He says that his sense of hearing is particularly acute.

I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell.

Unfortunately, the narrator is wholly unreliable, as evidenced by those two sentences alone. The reader quickly realizes that the narrator is unquestionably insane.

Nevertheless, the narrator goes to great lengths to prove the acuteness of his hearing, while at the same time trying to prove his sanity.

The narrator resolves to kill an old man for no reason other than his "vulture eye"—"a pale blue eye, with a film over it." Night after night he looks in on the sleeping old man, waiting to see that "vulture eye" and ready to pounce on that eye the moment he sees it.

On the eighth night, the narrator sees the eye, and it infuriates him. Not only that, but he hears the beating of the old man's heart, and the sound further incenses him.

When the narrator's uncontrollable terror reaches its peak, he leaps into the old man's room, drags him to the floor, and crushes him under the weight of his heavy bed.

After several minutes, the narrator could no longer hear the beating of the old man's heart.

The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

To aid the concealment of the old man's dead body, the narrator dismembers the corpse.

I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. I then took up three...

(The entire section contains 615 words.)

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