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Tell-Tale Heart, Essay Example

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Essay

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe continues to remain one of the most fascinating and famous literary works in American history.  The chilling story truly represents the tales of a madman as he has clearly lost some semblance of sanity and is justified in killing an old man because of his ‘vulture’ eye.  The narrator may in fact be very unreliable in his retelling of the events that take place throughout the story.  His insanity may have altered how he truly viewed the world around him, especially with regards to the old man and his frightful eye.  It is clear that he does have enough sense about him to recall very finite details, which is something that an unreliable narrator would not be able to do.  Therefore, despite his insanity, the narrator helps the reader understand the true story of the events that took place surrounding the old man’s murder.

The beating heart in the story represents the narrator’s conscience and guilt that he feels for his actions against the old man.  The heart begins as a dull sound that just barely registers to the narrator, but then eventually escalates so loud and so painful that the narrator cannot take it anymore and confesses his actions.  It is not the actual sound of the heart that makes him confess, but the pounding of the narrator’s conscience and the weight of his actions upon his shoulders that forces him to do so.  For this reason, the climax of the story actually comes in the end.  This is the summation of all of the reader’s feelings for the narrator and the murder of the old man.  The pace of the story picks up during this scene and greatly heightens the emotions that the reader feels as the narrator fights with the sound of the beating heart.  Everything that happened throughout the story comes to a climactic finish as the narrator screams his confession to the police.  This was a perfect ending, and perfect climax for such a story and for this reason, among many others, the story still remains a major part of modern American literature.

References

Poe, Edgar A. “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Literature.org – The Online Literature Library. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.literature.org/authors/poe-edgar-allan/tell-tale-heart.html>.

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