What crime did the narrator in "The Tell Tale Heart" commit?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The narrator in “The Tell Tale Heart” murders the old man in the story because of an obsession he has with the old man’s eye.  The eye is described as vulture-like with a blue and white filmy coating over it.  Poe uses a lot of eye symbolism in his stories to represent that eyes are the “windows to our souls.”  The narrator thinks the old man can see into his thoughts and desires with his creepy eye.  Obsessed with the eye, the narrator creeps to open the door of the old man’s bedroom each night and shines a ray of light from a lantern onto the eye.  One night the old man wakes up, and the narrator murders him and cuts up the corpse.  He hides the old man’s heart under the floor boards of the living room.  All goes well for the narrator until the police come looking for the old man.  The narrator, in his insanity and guilt, begins to hear the heart beat under the floor.  He confesses to his crime and is arrested. 

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