illustration of a human heart lying on black floorboards

The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe
Start Free Trial

Provide an analysis of "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Edgar Allan Poe's 1843 short story features a narrator who commits the premeditated murder of a vulnerable elderly man and then succumbs to delusions that lead him to reveal his crime to the authorities, all while trying to convince readers of his sanity and the perfection of his crime.

...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Edgar Allan Poe's 1843 short story features a narrator who commits the premeditated murder of a vulnerable elderly man and then succumbs to delusions that lead him to reveal his crime to the authorities, all while trying to convince readers of his sanity and the perfection of his crime.

The setting is vague and thus not important. The only character that is developed is the narrator. It is possible that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, as this is a type of mental illness that sometimes manifests auditory hallucinations. He possesses no discernible morality, having killed the man for no reason other than his dark obsession with appearance of the old man's filmy eye.

The story consists of an extended monologue in which the narrator addresses the reader as "you." There are many exclamations that reveal the increasing agitation of the narrator even as he boasts of the genius of his criminal acts.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is notable for its style; Poe helped to popularize the short story, especially gothic narratives, in addition to his invention of the detective story. This story utilizes Poe's technique of what he called the "single effect." His intent is to create a sense of horror, and the themes of the story (the dangers of obsession, the destructive outcomes of guilt, and the terror of a descent into madness) are somewhat secondary.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team