The Tell-Tale Heart Questions and Answers
What is the relationship between the narrator and the old man in "The Tell-tale Heart"? My English teacher is convinced that the narrator is the old man's servant, but her explanation why is not very clear, so I'm not so sure. What do you think?
Why does the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" wait till the eighth night to commit the murder? He watched him for seven nights, and on the eighth night he suffocated him. Why is the eighth night significant?
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," what prevents the narrator from killing the old man during one of the first seven nights?
What are the two main symbols in the story "The Tell-Tale Heart"? What does each one represent? What is one other symbol Poe might have chosen?
Compare and contrast the narrator's point of view at the beginning and the end of the story. Note any differences and the possible causes behind these differences.
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," why does the narrator hear the old man's heart beat so loudly when the police are at his home?
Explain this quote from "The Tell-Tale Heart": "Death, in approaching him, had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim."
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator insists from the very beginning of the story that he is not insane. What characteristics does he say prove his sanity? What characteristics suggest his madness instead?
How does the narrator feel immediately after he commits the murder in The Tell-Tale Heart? Do his feelings change? If so, how and why?
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," what heart does the narrator hear at the end? What do you think this reveals about the narrator’s mental state? At what point in the narrative is the narrator pushed over the edge into both sounding an acting madly? What is Poe's "sublime"? How and when might this experience enter into the story? Some critics have suggested that Poe’s unnamed narrator is actually a woman. How might this identity alter our understanding of the story, particularly how we determine who is possibly the first victim of this story?
Give two specific examples from "The Tell-Tale Heart" that the author uses to create an atmosphere of horror or suspense. These are sentences that set or enhance the mood of the story.
What are some examples of smell, taste, and touch imagery/descriptive language in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?
For a debate on "The Tell-Tale Heart," I have to say if the narrator is guilty or not and if he insane.
Why does the narrator believe he will not get caught after murdering the old man in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?
"The Tell-Tale Heart" is suitable for 8th graders for two reasons: 8th graders are mature enough to read it, and modern day entertainment is more violent than the story. List a third reason why "The Tell-Tale Heart" is appropriate for an 8th grade audience.
How does the setting in "The Tell-Tale Heart" affect the characterization, theme, and the mood of the story?
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," in what way does the narrator try to prove that he is sane? Cite evidence from the story as support.
Why does the narrator ask, "have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses?" in "The Tell-tale Heart"?
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