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A Tell-Tale Heart
By: Edgar Allen Poe

Genre: Short Story
Reading Time: 15 minutes


“True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is considered to among the best of his short stories and I have to concur. Not only is it widely known and respected, but it is also a wonderful story. The eye (which ironically can’t see) is the main focus of this story. They eye drove the main character mad yet he tries to convince the reader that he is not mad.


“It was a low, dull, quick sound – much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.”

I found it really interesting how Poe was able to develop his ‘crazy’ character in such a short amount of time. The story is only a few pages yet it has such an arc and the ending was the peak of the writing as in that moment he proved to everyone he was indeed a madman. As a reader, we could see him lose his mind throughout the story, but to the authorities, he was trying to convince, he seemed like a normal man. Throughout the story, Poe uses some short choppy sentences, a lot of hyphens and exclamation points to allude to the unstable way the main character was thinking. His mind was a mess, everything was jumbled, he was trying to piece together an alibi that would hopefully free him. It is evident that he had some problems yet he was extremely clever. Its too bad the eye clouded his vision and will cost him dearly. He has all of the characteristics of a sociopath, you can feel the nervous energy radiating off of the story.

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“Villians!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! – tear up the planks! – here, here! – it is the beating of his hideous heart!”

The most ironic part of this story is that he could’ve gotten with this murder, it was quiet, well cleaned up and the body was hidden. His own guilt drove him mad in the form of a beating heart he claimed was the old man’s. He proclaimed several times that he was really clever, and careful. There was no heartbeat, except maybe his own. That fantom heart beat really showed the extent of his madness.

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