What are the differences and similarities between Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Cask of Amontillado"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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It's fun and easy to compare these two classic American horror short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Cask of Amontillado.


  • A mentally unstable narrator and protagonist
  • Protagonists who narrate to an unknown character (or directly to the reader)
  • Brutal murders in the final conclusion
  • Settings at night and in the dark
  • Gothic settings
  • Underground locations
  • Unspecified reasons for the murders
  • Murder victims with deformity or weakness
  • Protagonist exhibits love and kindness in days before murder
  • Only two primary characters--protagonist and antagonist


  • One protagonist/murderer with a guilty conscience (TT-TH) and one with a clear conscience (TCOA).
  • One murderer is caught (TT-TH) and one is not (TCOA).
  • One victim is old and defenseless (TT-TH) and the other is relatively youthfu (TCOA).
  • One murderer mutilates the body (TT-TH) and the other leaves his victim to die on his own (TCOA).
  • One murderer is "nervous--very, very dreadfully nervous (TT-TH) while the other remains calm throughout.(TCOA). 

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