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The Tell-Tale Heart - Class 12 Heritage of words

The Tell-Tale Heart       Edgar Alan Poe  



‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ is a striking story with a great deal of psychological insight. It is written by Edgar Allan Poe. In this story, the writer makes his narrator unfold in minute details the many folds of the mystery and leads his reader to the ultimate end. The story involves the reader’s sense of perception and let them discover the abnormality in the narrator who turns out to be a psychopath killing an innocent man. The title of the story is quite suggestive because it is the heart of the narrator that exposes the secret.
According to the story, the narrator happens to live with an old man. Although he does not bear any personal grudge against the old man, he develops an irrational hatred towards him on account the eye. The old man has the eye of a vulture, a pale blue eye with a film over it. It makes the narrator feel cold. Owing to this kind of unreasonable feelings, he decides to take the life of the man for no genuine reason at all. Driven with this irrational feelings and decision, he exhibits such behavior which drives the readers to discover the fact that the narrator is an abnormal character. At night he turns the latch of the old man’s door and opens it gently. After that, he opens the door for his head to be pushed through with a dark lantern all closed. Then he opens the door for his head to be pushed through with a dark lantern all closed. Then he moves his head slowly without disturbing the man. It takes him an hour to place his whole head within the opening. Once it is done, he makes a single thin ray of the lamp fall upon the vulture eye of the old man and keeps waiting for the man to open it. Thus he spends the whole night looking for the opportunity to kill the old man. Surprisingly enough, the narrator wants to kill him only when that vulture’s eye is opened.
He does it for seven long nights starting from 12 O’clock. In the morning he behaves with the old man in such a manner that the latter never suspects the evil intention of the narrator. On the eighth night, he repeats the same activity with more precaution. While thinking of his secret deeds or thoughts, he chuckles and it makes the man on the bed move suddenly as if he has been startled. Later the narrator’s thumb slips upon the tin fastening, producing noise. The old man springs up in a bed crying out whether anybody is there. After a long time, the narrator opens the lamp so that a single dim ray falls upon the vulture eye. The sight of the eye increases his heart beating. However the abnormal way of thinking makes the narrator conclude that it is the heart of the old man beating loudly. Fearing that it could be heard by a neighbor, he suffocates the man to death.
After that, he dismembers the corpse and deposits the limbs under the flooring of the chamber. Later three police officers get into the house due to the report about foul play. The confidence and fearless behavior of the narrator as well as the search satisfies the officers. Being over confident the narrator gets the officers to sit in the same room. In course of time, his heart starts beating fast. Again he feels that it is the heart of the old man. He fears that it is overheard by the officers and truth is detected. He concludes that the officers are pretending to be ignorant. The story ends with his eccentric confession about the deed.
The whole story reads like a thriller. Understanding of the story depends on readers’ perception of the details that indicate the abnormality of the narrator such as irrational hatred

for the eye, decision to kill the man for no genuine reasons, inhuman way of dismembering the corpse, his conviction about the victim’s heart beating after death etc.

Important Questions from The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
Short Answer Questions

1. What made the narrator confess his crime? [2062, 2065, 2069] 2. Describe the scene when the narrator killed the old man. [2064] 3. Would you call the narrator of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ mad? Give reasons for your answer. [2066, 2068] 4. How was the narrator betrayed by his own heart? Discuss. [2069]
Long Answer Questions
1. Why does the narrator develop intense hatred against the old man? Would you call the narrator mad? Give reasons for your answer. [2059]
Glossary: [grudge: feeling dislike or anger towards someone, genuine: honest, real, startled: to suddenly surprise or frighten someone, dismember: to cut arms and legs of the body of a person or an animal, eccentric: behaving in an unusual way]

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