The Tell-Tale Heart (film)
, The Tell-Tale Heart, Talk:The Tell-Tale Heart
, Talk:The Tell-Tale Heart (film)
'He shrieked once -once only
"The Tell-Tale Heart
" is a short story
by Edgar Allan Poe
, which was first published in James Russell Lowell
's The Pioneer
in January 1843
; Poe republished it in his periodical The Broadway Journal
for August 23 1845
. It is widely considered a classic of the Gothic fiction
genre and is one of Poe's most famous short stories.
"The Tell-Tale Heart" is the first-person narrative of an unreliable narrator
who is taking care of an old man with a clouded eye. The narrator's feverishly heightened senses lead to an irrational fear of the weird clouded eye (perhaps afflicted with glaucoma
or a severe cataract
). The fellow becomes so distressed by the eye that he plots to murder
the old man. For 8 nights, the narrator opens the door of the old man's room, a process which takes him a full hour, watching and waiting for the perfect moment to strike. However, the old man's eye is shut, hiding the clouded eye, and the narrator loses the urge to kill. One night, though, the old man awakens as the narrator watches, revealing the eye, and the narrator strikes, smothering him with his own mattress. The narrator proceeds to chop the body up, and hide the pieces under the floorboards. He then dresses the room, so as to hide all signs of the crime. When the police respond to a call placed by a neighbor who heard a distressful scream, the narrator invites them to look around, confident that they will not find any evidence of the murder. They sit around the old man's room, right on top of the very hiding place of the corpse, yet suspect nothing. The narrator, however, begins to hear a faint noise. As the noise grows louder, he hallucinates that it is the heartbeat of the old man coming from under the floorboards. He becomes paranoid by the fact that the officers seem to pay no heed to the sound, being loud enough to hear. Coupled with the constant beating of the heart and the narrator's feeling that the officers must be aware of the heartbeats, he loses his control and bids them tear up the floorboards to reveal the body.
Throughout the story the narrator insists that he is sane, simultaneously giving the impression of serious derangement or paranoia.
Poe's short stories often have a single, unified theme that reaches the reader through diction, characterization, plot, dialogue and other elements. The theme of this story might be guilt
or madness. The story also contains the theme of a corpse interred in a house, commonly present in "The Black Cat
" and "The Fall of the House of Usher
". The corpse invariably symbolizes some flawed portion of the narrator's personality - in this case, his inability to see the world with a clear eye - and the house represents the narrator himself. Burying the corpse within the house represents the narrator's attempt to bury his flaws rather than dealing with them, as the concealment of the narrator's wife in "The Black Cat" represents the narrator's desire to wall his problems within. This burial always leads to the narrator's downfall in Poe's stories, because the narrator has failed to deal with his problem, and so it resurfaces later on. The madmen in Poe's stories are usually monomaniacal
. The nervousness with teeth in "Berenicë
" is comparable, and to an extent, in "The Black Cat" by an obsession with another eye.
An animated film
version by UPA
, The Tell-Tale Heart
), is included among the films preserved in the United States National Film Registry
. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is one of several songs inspired by Poe stories on the album Tales of Mystery and Imagination
(original version 1976
, CD remix 1987
) by The Alan Parsons Project
. It is sung in an appropriately hysterical style by Arthur Brown
. In 2003
, Lou Reed
released The Raven
, an album solely based on poems and short stories by Poe; featured was "The Tell-Tale Heart."The 1953 animated short is featured on the two disc verion of the DVD Hellboy
In 1995, Mojo Press and artist Bill Fountain published a collection of graphic versions of Poe stories under the title The Tell Tale Heart
, featuring a female character as the tortured narrator of the title story. An episode of The Simpsons
," September 11, 1994) featured a "Tell-Tale Heart"-inspired act of revenge between Lisa and a new student (voiced by Winona Ryder
). The season 1 episode titled "The Telltale Head
" is a reference to "The Tell-Tale Heart." An episode of Spongebob Squarepants
, Squeaky Boots
, has Mr. Krabs
burying a pair of squeaky boots underneath the floorboards, only to begin hearing the noise more and more before snapping and digging up, boiling, and eating the boots.
A portion of the 1995 computer game The Dark Eye
requires the player to enact the plot of "The Tell-Tale Heart" from the point of view of the story's narrator.
* http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/thearta.htm "The Tell-Tale Heart"
- Full text of the first printing, from the Pioneer
* http://www.yeoldelibrary.com/text/PoeEA/heart/index.htm The Tell-Tale Heart
, online at http://www.yeoldelibrary.com/ Ye Olde Library
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