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

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The plot is about a man who wants to murder another man but doesn't want to be caught and punished. We have to assume that he intends to commit a perfect crime, even though the narrator does not say as much until after he commits it and hides the body...

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The plot is about a man who wants to murder another man but doesn't want to be caught and punished. We have to assume that he intends to commit a perfect crime, even though the narrator does not say as much until after he commits it and hides the body under the floor boards. The narrator spends a great deal of time talking about how he looked in on the old man every night and focuses on details leading up to the actual murder, but the important feature is that he wants to get by with a murder. We will tend to suspect that he is a dependent on this older man and has something to gain from killing him. The victim is probably not his father, but he could be the narrator's uncle, and the narrator might stand to inherit the house and some money. Otherwise, it is hard to account for why he would be living with this older man. The narrator's real motive for committing the murder may have nothing to do with the old man's eye and everything to do with wanting his property. This is essentially a perfect-crime story in which the perpetrator nearly gets away with it except for one slip-up. In such stories the reader is in the perpetrator's point of view and therefore identifies with him to some extent. When the narrator breaks down and confesses, the reader also must share the feeling of being exposed and arrested. The fact that the narrator is insane is incidental. Even insane murderers usually have practical motivations.

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The Tell-Tale Heart’’ is the story of a man who, due to some unknown illness (presumably paranoid schizophrenia--at least that’s what it sounds like), stalks and eventually murders an innocent old man because he feels that this man’s cloudy, pale blue eye has caused him to go mad. You might think, okay, he’s killed him: end of story. However, this is Poe’s writing we are talking about and nothing is ever as simple as it seems. After the murder, the narrator argues against his madness, yet he moves once again to disprove that argument by admitting to continue to be haunted by the old man’s heartbeat, which drives him to further acts of insanity in which he dismembers the old man and hides him beneath the floorboards. Check out the link below to read a detailed summary of the story and learn the outcome of this very unusual story. Hope this helps.

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In the exposition, the narrator describes his animosity towards the old man with whom he lives, although he never gives any coherent reason for his hatred.  However, he feels the old man's eye knows his inner heart, and for this reason he fears and loathes him.

The rising action and climax occurs when the narrator kills the old man and buries him beneath the floor boards.  He hopes to be rid forever of that all-knowing eye.

The denoument, or falling action, happens when the narrator confesses to the police of his crime.

For a more complete overview of Poe's gruesome tale, please visit the link below.   

 

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