The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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Why do the police arrive in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?  

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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*Question has been edited down to a single question (per eNotes policy).

Three men, who reveal themselves to be police officers, show up at the narrator's residence with plans to search the home.  Of course, the narrator is naturally suspicious as to why anybody would suspect that a crime has been committed; in his mind, he has carried off the perfect crime.  The officers explain that:

A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

The quote reveals that the narrator's supposedly flawless crime was not nearly so well-executed as he believed.  The neighbors actually heard the old man's final cry at the time of his attack and summoned the police to investigate.  Even though the narrator feels extremely confident about his chances of success in getting away with murder--so much so that he gives the officers an extended tour of the home--his guilt and paranoia begin to chip away at his calm demeanor the longer he and the officers stay at the scene of the crime. 

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When the mentally unstable narrator is about to kill the old man with the "Evil Eye," the old man lets out a loud shriek before the narrator throws him to the ground and suffocates him. The narrator then proceeds to dismember the old man's body and hides the man's body parts underneath the floorboards. After the narrator cleans the crime scene, he hears someone knocking on his door. Three police officers greet the narrator and explain to him that several neighbors heard a loud shriek coming from his home and became suspicious of "foul play." The three police officers were sent to the narrator's home to search the premises and inquire about the shrieking noise. The narrator then confidently invites the officers into his home to look around, and they initially do not suspect him of committing a crime. However, the narrator cannot control his thoughts and feelings of guilt and believes that he hears the sound of the old man's heart beating from underneath the floorboards. During his conversation with the police, the narrator can no longer control his thoughts and admits to murdering the old man.

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jaycee22 | Student

thank you very much :)

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