illustration of a human heart lying on black floorboards

The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe

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What is the main conclusion of "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

The main conclusion of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is that the narrator is completely insane and that he murdered and dismembered the old man. Other conclusions that could be made are that good will always vanquish evil and that one cannot hide from their own conscious.

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In this eerie short story, the narrator tries to convince the reader that not only is he sane but is also justified in killing an old man, whom he claims to love, because of his eye. After carefully plotting out his murder and waiting for just the right moment to execute it, the narrator kills and then dismembers the old man, storing his body parts underneath the floorboards. At first he believes that he's totally gotten away with the murder, but when the police show up, he hears the beating of the old man's heart, which is really a manifestation of his own guilty conscience, and he ends up confessing everything.

One conclusion based on the outcome of the story is that it's nearly impossible to get away with evil deeds and that the truth will eventually come to light. The narrator isn't really hearing the beating of an old man's heart after he died; instead, he is becoming increasingly guilt-ridden over his crime, and that guilt manifests itself in a physical and tangible way.

Another conclusion is that desperate people will find ways to justify the behavior that allows them to fulfill their desires, no matter how irrational. In the beginning, the narrator seems to land on his reason for murder almost by accident:

He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this!

Rational readers understand that a "pale blue eye, with a film over it" is surely no cause for murder, but somehow the narrator develops a belief in this nonsensical reason for taking this man's life, and his resolve is absolute. It is impossible to rationalize the plans of insane men.

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The main conclusion of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is that the narrator is indeed insane, which prompts him to reveal the old man’s corpse to the police.

Looking a little deeper, however, there are other conclusions that we can draw from this story. For example, it could be argued that one of the key conclusions of the story is that you cannot hide from your own conscience, even if it will bring about your own destruction. This is shown clearly through what happens to the narrator.

Despite being of unsound mind and concealing the old man’s body under the floorboards, he can not hide from what he has done. Thus, the beating of the heart symbolizes the narrator's guilty conscience. The longer he tried to conceal the crime, the louder his conscience becomes, even though he knows that confessing will have serious consequences on his life and liberty. Evidently, he chooses to take that option because his conscience has to be satisfied.

Ultimately, what this tells the reader is that good will always triumph over evil. Although the narrator cannot take back what he has done, his confession demonstrates an attempt to put things right. Perhaps the old man's heart will only stop beating when justice is finally done and the narrator is sentenced for his crime.

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As with a lot of Poe's narrators, it is clear that the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is completely unreliable. His story is so weird, so utterly fantastical, so crazy and unbelievable, that it's almost impossible to believe a word he says. But when the horrific reality of his actions finally hit home the truth finally emerges: the narrator is a madman who brutally murdered and dismembered an old man, disturbed as he was by his allegedly evil eye.

We know this because of the narrator's irresistible guilt complex, which manifests itself in the loud, insistent beating of the dead man's heart, the tell-tale heart of the title. Confronted by the truth of his deadly, murderous deed, the narrator is scared out of his wits, so much so that he has no alternative but to confess to what he's done.

Of course, such things don't happen in real life, but within the parameters of a horror story, they are entirely credible. The only doubt in the reader's mind is whether the narrator is credible in telling his story. The final terrible moments of the story should lay that charge to rest. The man is a crazed killer, and he'll soon be paying a very heavy price for his evil deed.

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In the conclusion of the short story 'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allen Poe, the murderer/narrator totally loses it - and gives the game away all by himself. Having murdered and dismembered the old man and disposed of all traces of him under the floorboards, he goes through all the painstaking interviews, questions and enquiries of the interrogating detectives without a hitch. As Poe builds the suspense and tension to fever pitch, the narrator does not think he can bear a minute more of keeping up appearances and imagines the victim's heart giving the game away under the floor by ticking louder and louder. In the end, it is a game of 'mind over matter' of his own choosing that lets him down at the conclusion of an almost 'perfect murder.' Guilt and fear of discovery bring his mental defences crashing down in conclusion.

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The main conclusion of Poe's short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart" is that the narrator is indeed insane.  In the opening paragraphs of the story, the narrator goes out of his way to ensure the reader that he is not mad.  He then goes on to tell that the weird eye of the old man for whom he cares has caused him to want to kill him.  He goes through with the murder and chops up his body into little pieces.  He then proceeds to hide the pieces underneath the floorboards.  As the days tick on, the man believes he has gotten away with the perfect murder.  When the investigators come to question the man, he answers their questions with no problems.  They prolong their stay, and the man becomes convinced that he can hear the old man's heart ticking.  The ticking becomes progressively louder, until finally, the man breaks down and tells the investigators what he has done.  He is then arrested and taken away.

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