Search Menu

Contents

“The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843)

page 2 of 2

The narrator’s newly heightened sensitivity to sound ultimately overcomes him, as he proves unwilling or unable to distinguish between real and imagined sounds. Because of his warped sense of reality, he obsesses over the low beats of the man’s heart yet shows little concern about the man’s shrieks, which are loud enough both to attract a neighbor’s attention and to draw the police to the scene of the crime. The police do not perform a traditional, judgmental role in this story. Ironically, they aren’t terrifying agents of authority or brutality. Poe’s interest is less in external forms of power than in the power that pathologies of the mind can hold over an individual. The narrator’s paranoia and guilt make it inevitable that he will give himself away. The police arrive on the scene to give him the opportunity to betray himself. The more the narrator proclaims his own cool manner, the more he cannot escape the beating of his own heart, which he mistakes for the beating of the old man’s heart. As he confesses to the crime in the final sentence, he addresses the policemen as “[v]illains,” indicating his inability to distinguish between their real identity and his own villainy.

More Help

Previous Next
Bacon

by Hookshot8, March 14, 2014

It's goooooood.... mmmmmmh

0 Comments

10 out of 18 people found this helpful

THANK YOU!

by kttheharrypotterfan, September 17, 2014

This makes so much sense, I would have missed out on these important facts if I had just relied on what I had read. THANK YOU!!!!

0 Comments

4 out of 5 people found this helpful

Masque of the Red Death

by anon_2223125324, November 03, 2014

This helped me so much and I did not realize the rooms symbolized the stages of the life from what I just overall really insightful.

0 Comments

1 out of 1 people found this helpful

See all 12 readers' notes   →