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The Tell-Tale Heart

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Athena Xia

on 20 December 2013

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Transcript of The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart
By: Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Life and History
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston Massachusetts. Both of his parents were professional actors. His mother died one year after his father's departure. John and Frances Allan (his foster parents), raised him in Richmond, Virginia. He studied at the University of Virginia, but gave up on schooling a year later, due to gambling debts. Because he was not able to support himself, he joined the army, which he later dropped out of. In 1835, he got a job as an editor because he won a contest (with his story " The Manuscript Found in a Bottle") He married his 13 year old cousin Virginia ( He was 27 at the time). After his wife, Virginia, died in 1847, he collapsed from stress, but slowly built his health back up. In 1849, he planned to marry Sarah Royster Shelton in October. Unfortunately, he died in hospital on October 7, 1849. To this day, the cause of his death still remains a mystery.
1)Verbal irony: While he insists that he is sane, we know that he is indeed insane. quote:" You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. "
2) A mad man who is capable of logical reasoning and planning is also ironical.
quote:"You should have seen how wisely I proceeded --with what caution --with what foresight --with what dissimulation I went to work!"
3)Situational irony: The irony of the killer admitting his crime after he had already deceived the police.
4)Verbal irony: The murderer called the police "Villains!"

Point of View
First Person Point of View
A character narrates the story with I-me-my-mine in his or her speech, which makes this a first person point of view. The advantage of this point of view is that you get to hear the thoughts of the narrator and see the world depicted in the story through his or her eyes.
Creations of the Short Story
The title of the story originated from the beating of the old man's heart (after he is dead). In this particular case, the heart tells the tale on the murderer/ narrator. Edgar Allan Poe said that a perfect story should be read in one setting ( the "tell tale heart" is only 10 paragraphs). He also said that a story should be a tightly controlled, highly compressed narrative that hits on topics to which everybody can relate to.
A very paranoid and mentally disturbed person explains how an old man he/she may live with, (unknown relationship) has a blue eye that haunts him/her everyday. The person decides to go into his bedroom and kill him. For the first seven nights, he/she watched the old man sleep. On the eighth day, he/she killed the old man by placing him under the bed that the old man was sleeping in. The person swiftly dissembled the body. He/she hid the parts under the floor boards. Soon after, the police arrive, due to the phone call their neighbor made after hearing the old man scream. The person has the police fooled, but he soon is consumed with guilt and confesses his crimes to the police.
Character Analysis
The Person/ the narrator/the murderer
Unknown gender or age
Most likely to have a mental disorder
No intention of wanting the old man's fortunes
Very bothered by the old man's eye
The Old Man
Gender: male
Rich and kind
Has a blue eye
Three Policemen
Played a part in driving the person to confess
Gender: most likely male
The Neighbor
Unknown gender, age, or association with the man aside from being his neighbor
Alerted the policemen
Sound of Heartbeat
In the story, the narrator thinks that the heartbeat is that of the old man's heart, but it is really the sound of the narrators guilt and fear.
The Evil Eye

The blue eye represents the fear of the narrator. Even though it is veiled with a film and unseeing. It is described as an eye of a vulture, always watching and sending him chills. This shows the narrator's fear of being watched and having his true self discovered and exposed by this eye. It also represents the identity of the old man because we gain little knowledge about him through the story since he is basically 'the man with the evil eye', and this is the only reason the narrator kills him. It symbolizes how an entire person (with personalities and life style) can be reduced to only one thing he/she is associated with (the eye in this case).
Edgar Allan Poe often refers time/clocks/watches to symbolizes how the death of the old man is approaching. As well as how much time remains for him rests completely in the narrators hands and that feeling of triumph because of the power he holds.
The person says how he was happy to kill the old man but deep inside he felt very guilty, because he loved the old man and he KNOWS that the old man had never wronged him. Yet he wanted to kill the man to destroy the eye- a reason even the person himself cannot fully understand. Throughout the story, the readers can see hints of guilt within him through small actions he makes. For example when he mentions, "I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him". In the end it was his own guilt that pounded his head and drove him so mad that he admitted his own deed to the cops.
The person is obviously insane for killing an old man he loves, just because the old man possesses an 'evil' eye. Throughout the story he denies his insanity in almost every single paragraph. Over and over again he says, "how, then am I mad?" " Now this is the point, you fancy me mad" "if you still think me mad, you will no longer so...", This shows that he really is mad and insane and that he is desperately trying to deny it because a madman cannot stand someone calling him crazy. A madman also does not think that he is crazy, he sees himself as a completely normal person. It is also ironic how he explains he is not mad because he is able to kill someone he loves so easily because of one eye, even though that is exactly what makes him insane.
In this story, death is depicted by time. Time measures the amount of time left for the old man. The narrator seems to be completely obsessed with time and almost every single action he commits in the story is measured by some form of 'time', whether it is in hours, minutes, or days.
"And every night, before midnight..."
"It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening..."
"A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine."
"But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound"
"When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock" and Etc.
It shows how time is precious and the way it passes as if it is running out.
Crime, Punishment, Karma
People always gets punished for bad things they commit. Just like in this story, he could have gotten away from the police, but in the end, his guilt exposed himself and he admitted to doing the deed.
Poe wrote this story in a very mysterious, dark and engaging way. One unique technique he used to achieve this is by not giving any of his characters an actual name. Instead, the readers simply know them as the insane narrator, the old man with the 'evil' eye, the neighbor and the policemen. This makes the character's roles and features more important and makes them more memorable.
Another reason why this story is so interesting is because it is told in the point of view a crazy person who barely justifies his own actions for killing the man yet never admits his insanity. This then really forces the readers to put themselves into the narrators shoes and to try very hard to understand his emotions, motives, and thoughts in order to understand the story and why it happened.
To make the story more dramatic and extremely interesting, Edgar Allan Poe used many literary devices such as symbolism, and ironies. One thing that appears to be used many times is repeating certain things or words to exaggerate something. An example is how the narrator tells the readers he is NOT mad over and over again. In many parts of the story, certain words were repeated many times such as; "how stealthily, stealthily..."
"slowly--very, very slowly..."
"It grew louder-- louder--louder!"
This technique is very effective because it forces the readers to put more attention to what is happening in the plot and also builds suspense.

Other literary devices were also used such as simile, metaphor, and personification. These makes the story more interesting, and creates stronger images.
Simile: "a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider"
Metaphor: "One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it"
Personification: "because Death, is approaching him. Had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim"
Interesting Facts
Poe only wrote one novel.
For the most of his life, he did not have his mustache. When he start to grow it, he starting to go mad
He joined alcholic anonymous
He LOVES cats
Ladies love him
He was handsome
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