What is the point of view and the tone of "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As was mentioned in the previous posts, the short story is told in the first-person. First-person narration uses the personal pronouns "I" and "my" throughout the text. The first few sentences of the story reveal that Poe is utilizing a first-person narrator. Poe writes,

"It's true! Yes, I have been ill, very ill. But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad?" (1).

The are various tones throughout the short story. Towards the beginning of the story, the narrator describes his acute sense of hearing and discusses his sanity. The tone is somewhat perplexing and ominous. The tone becomes exciting during the narrator's attack on the old man then changes to arrogant as he delights in his accomplishment. The tone then shifts to paranoid and nervous as the narrator attempts to make the heartbeat stop. The combination of various tones creates a tense and thrilling atmosphere throughout the story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

mvmaurno's profile pic

mvmaurno | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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I would like to add that the tone is derived from a combination of glimpses of almost flawless strategies from a sane, brilliant master-mind of a perfect murder mixed in with those of a paranoid, guilt-ridden insane individual who fears being caught.  As the story progresses, the guilt overshadows the sane demeanor and results in the confession of the murder.  The first person perspective helps us to get into the mind of this severely distrubed narrator.

brendawm's profile pic

brendawm | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is told from the first person point of view of the murderer and has a tone that is paranoid, frightened and guilty all at the same time.  He is increasingly agitated as the story progresses increasing the readers sense of dread.

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