The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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What are the exposition, rising action, climax and falling action in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?  

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The exposition of the "Tell-Tale Heart" is when we are introduced to the narrator and he insists that he is not insane. The rising action takes place as the narrator tries to muster the courage to kill the old man. The climax of the story is when the narrator kills the old man. The falling action of the story occurs when the narrator "hears" the beating of the old man's heart beneath the floor boards. 


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Exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action and dénouement are all terms used to describe plot structure. They outline the rise and fall of the action in a story. Exposition sets up the story and the characters. The inciting incident is the event that starts the action or the conflict of the story. The events that follow the inciting incident that build the action are part of the rising action. The climax is that moment when the action is at its highest point or when the conflict is about to be solved. Falling action resolves the plot points that are still left open and the dénouement ends the story.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe follows traditional plot structure. The exposition sets up the relationship between the narrator and the old man. The inciting incident is the narrator’s decision to murder the old man. This decision starts the action of the story. The narrator’s attempts to kill the old man, choosing not to and trying again are all part of the rising action. The climax is the murder of the old man. The police arriving, the narrator lying about what happened and then hearing the heartbeat are all part of the falling action. The dénouement is his final declaration of guilt that ends the story.  

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Exposition is the part of the story that sets up the rest of the story. It usually introduces us to the characters and settings of the story to follow. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," we meet the narrator and the old man, and we see that the setting is the apartment of the narrator. We also see that the narrator insists that he is not insane, but we can tell from the beginning that he is not sane...

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