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The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe and it was first published in James Russell Lowell's "The Pioneer" in January 1843. It is considered to be a classic of the Gothic Fiction genre and one of the most contrived short stories. The story pursues a murderer who insists on his sanity , even if his acts say something else - he kills an old man with a "vulture eye". What is most remarkable is how meticulous the murder is planned - the murderer kills the old man , he cuts the body into pieces and then he hides the remains under the flooboards. Eventually, he is chased by the guilt and in his halucination he hears the heart of the victim beating under the floorboards , so he finally admitts his murder. The relationship between the two characters is unclear, we are not told what kind of relationship exists between the murderer and the victim. There are some suggestions that the old man can be a father figure or he can be his master, so this explains the concept of " vulture eye" - the surveillance of the child or the servant. Another thing that do not know is if the murderer is a man or a woman. The ambiguous relationship between the two characters is in contrast with the specific details of the manner in which the murder is comitted. The idea of murdering is triggered by the blue, pale colour of the old man's eye, which gives the murderer stressfull days and nights, so , to get rid of this stress, he decides that it is better to kill once for all the "vulture eye". So he plans the murder in its very precise details, watching the old man sleeping during seven nights, but how the "vulture eye" was all the time closed, he cannot carry out his plan. Only in the eighth night he succeeds in opening the victim's eye with the lantern, so the old man has a heart attack and the murderer finishes his plan when he pulls the bed over him. After this job is done, he starts to cut the corpse into pieces and then he puts the remnants under the flooboards. Unforunately for him, a neighbour hears the old man's yelling so he calls the police to investigate the house where the crime had been comitted. Once the police arrives, the murderer invites the policemen into the house, he says that the old man is out of town and he leads them exactly in the old man's chamber, being extremely secure on himself. They start speaking and having a good time, but after a while, the murderer starts hearing heart beatings more and more intense, thinking that they come from under the flooboards and that not only him, but also the police officers hear the beatings and they begin to


suspect on him,so in his halucination, he starts screaming that the old man's corpse is under the floor. The story starts in medias res , in the middle of the event and the opening is an in-progress conversation between the narrator and another person which cannot be identified in any way. It is thought that the unidentified person may be a judge, psychiatrist, newspaper reporter or a doctor. The first word is "True!" which represents the addmission of his guilt and it has the role to grab the reader's attention and to pull him right in the middle of the events. The story spins around the desperate attempt of the narrator to demonstrate his sanity - he thinks that comtting the murder in such great details cannot make him insane, but only sane. He claims to be suffering from a disease which causes him "over-acuteness of the senses" ,so the heart beatings that he hears in the end are only a product of his imagination that leads to his own destruction. Even if he wants to comitt the perfect crime, he has a lack of motivation - "Object there was none. Passion there was none." despite this, he says that the idea of murdering the old man with the "vulture eye" "haunted me day and night.". Getting rid of it meant for him a removal of conscience. The relation between the two characters is incidental, the focus of the story is the sordid scheme of comitting the perfect crime. Former United States Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur has suggested that the tale is an allegorical representation of Poe's poem "To Science".The poem shows the struggle between imagination and science. In "The Tell-Tale Heart" , the old man represents the scientific rational mind while the narrator is the imaginative.


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