The Tell-Tale Heart Book Review by Elena Juarez
Imagine nails on a chalkboard. Imagine the sound of styrofoam rubbing together. Imagine the sound of someone chewing with their mouth open or the non-stop clicking of a pen. How far would you go to make it stop? This is what “The Tell-Tale Heart'' by Edgar Allen Poe explores.
It is a chilling story that goes into the mind of psychotics. A classic story that has become the framework for many books and movies in contemporary society. It is the type of story that makes you both want to look away and keep reading. It follows a psychotic man as he tells the tale of his short-lived friendship with an old man and the reason why it had to end so quickly. It also explores the themes of guilt and the consequences to your actions.
Edgar Allen Poe is a genius in the sense that he can create these compelling characters that you should not feel sorry for and should not care what happens to, but you somehow do anyway (at least I do). What the man does is horrendous and irrevocably wrong but the only feeling the reader gets is sorrow. Sorrow for the end of a life and sorrow for the man that believed with all his heart that this was the only way. Of course, by the end of the story, he comes to understand that his choices changed nothing. It changed nothing but the blood now staining his hands. Now, why did he do what he did? I believe that it was simply his ill mind. It started as something simple that many of us experience daily. A small annoyance that causes you to put on headphones to ignore it to the best of your ability. Then it goes back to the question I stated earlier; How far would you go to stop it if it didn’t stop on its own? This is where I believe Edgar Allen Poe does his best work because you can understand on some level the motivations behind the man’s horrors. He just wanted it to stop, is that so bad?
However, we also need to take into account the way the story is built. It is told from a warped point of view. How much of the story is true and how much did the man take out of context and make into his own? It is certainly a confusing story in terms of the truth. It can be assumed that the old man was nice enough to him that he let the man into his home. Because we only get one side; however, we don’t know why the old man did. Was he lonely or did he feel pity for his neighbor down the road? It was some sort of friendship but I would argue that it was more of a companionship than anything. Two people not wanting to feel lonely. It was lovely...for a time anyway. However, all of this is assumed. Edgar Allen Poe instead gives us more context of the companionship after the deed is done. The man, yes is insane and yes hears noises that are not present, but it can also be said that in the end his guilt overshadowed his relief. As he stated himself, he loved the old man. Seeing what he’d done and having the pressure of enforcement (a symbol for good) broke him. Subjected him to the ongoing circle of denial and misplaced blame in order to lessen the weight of his regret.
What truly establishes it as a horror story, though, is the setting. The small, unassuming, innocent house of the old man. One that most likely had small knick-knacks on the shelves gathering dust or picture frames of his family crookedly covering his wall. All of this brings more horror to the act at the end of the story. Everyone knows that something bad is going to happen. The old man’s house contributes to the suspense building and rising and finally ripping apart at the owner’s death. It has to be noted that it is until the man dies that the house is destroyed. A metaphor for the violent death and the worsening mind of the man.
“The Tell-Tale Heart'' by Edgar Allen Poe emphasizes the themes of guilt and suffering consequences for wrongful doings. This is the type of story that makes your hair stand up straight, makes you make sure that the jacket by your door isn’t a person, and that the locks are tightly secured. It is certainly something that I would re-read and recommend. This recommendation goes out to those looking for a simple but haunting tale in the late nights of this Halloween season.
The Tell-Tale Heart Book Review by Valerie Jazmin
A conscience that gives you away with the beating of a heart. You are sane, but at the same time you are crazy, did you do all this for an eye? Now everything fades away, are they listening to the heartbeat of the body hidden under the ground?
In this story by Edgar Allan Poe, he tells us, in his original way of creating the characters, the emotions of a person who is being pressured by his conscience and the beating of a heart that only he hears.
Edgar has a particular way of showing the feelings of the character and narrator, they are not clear, to understand them a great analysis is needed since he usually seeks to confuse the reader with a monologue between sanity and madness.
The story of a perfect crime, no one suspects anything, and even when the police show up everything looks in order, no one knows that they are walking on the body of a murdered person.
They speak as if nothing had happened, until the conscience of the person appears and through whispers returns him to a reality fragmented by his actions, without wishing to do so he is involved in a big problem, now he is guilty of murder.
Everything was perfect until the whispers of the heart, everything was perfect, but conscience does not forgive, everything was perfect, but now it is only a fragment of history.
Everything was perfect.
The Tell-Tale Heart Book Review by Apoorva Singh
Even though I love writing horror and mystery, I am not such a big reader. I feel these days they cannot keep the suspense but this story is a definite exception for me. It is a masterpiece of horror of its time. They kept me engrossed in the story all throughout. I always refer to this story as a literary masterpiece. The imagery kept me awake all night, it was just different on another level.
Though, I do feel that the centre climax might have been a bit blurry and
unclear. Why did he come every night and not just on D-Day? Why a lamp? These very well might have been intentional but these didn’t add to the story and one the contrary made it more blurry and unclear. But whatever it is, it is absolutely fantastic
The Tell-Tale Heart Book Review by Nicole Del Rio
Edgar Allen Poe is a staple of American literature. Chances are that if you have taken an American English class, you have read The Tell-Tale Heart.
The Tell-Tale Heart deserves its spot as an iconic gothic tale. Perhaps the best description I have heard about the short story is that it can be used as a lesson in writing suspense. And boy, does it have suspense.
The reader is introduced to an unreliable narrator, who spends the story trying to prove himself sane (but his actions suggest otherwise). He confesses to a terrible crime, the murder of the old man he was tasked to care for. His motive? The man has an eye so morbidly hideous it is described as a vulture’s eye. After a few nights of stalking the man and observing his eye, the narrator snaps-unable to bear the sight of the eye any longer, he murders the man.
As any sane person would do (according to our narrator), he dismembers the body and hides the parts beneath the floorboard. To truly immerse the reader into the narrator’s madness, Poe adds details of his laughter and writes in fast paced fragments to create an atmosphere of mania. Pleased with how easy the evil deed was, the narrator brags to his audience about how clever the murder was. Although he claims to have loved the old man he murdered, he expresses no remorse. That eye was just too much for him. The use of first person helps sell the narrator’s argument as the whole story feels like his confession to the world.
When the police arrive, the narrator feels they have no reason to suspect him. There is no body,no blood stains, no weapon in sight. Everything seems to be going according to plan as the officers enjoy some tea and deem the reported shout as nothing worth noting, when suddenly a heartbeat echoes throughout the house. The narrator determines it was the old man’s heartbeat, but the old man is dead. He even suspects it is a ruse from the officers who are there to arrest him. As the heartbeat gets louder and louder, Poe increases the suspense. When I first read this story, a myriad of questions rushed through my mind. What will happen when the heartbeat gets too loud? Are the narrator’s delusions just delusions? Has the old man come back from the grave? Except, this was something more powerful than Poe’s usual ghosts. This was the narrator’s subconscious guilt. The heartbeat was the sound of his actions coming back to haunt him. Eventually, the sound became too much for the narrator and he digs up the heart from the floorboard. The story ends with him calling the officers villains, as he implores them to look at the heart.
As stated earlier, Poe uses the first point of view narration to his advantage. How better to depict a madman than to show his thoughts. The words feel manic and haunting as the pace goes faster and faster, until BAM the narrator must confess to his actions because the sound of the old man's heart was too much for him. The story is simple, but effective as it still manages to shock readers today. The reader is made aware from the beginning that the narrator does not get away with his crime, but what is shocking was that his conscience was his worst enemy. Some say the greatest hell is being forced to confront your greatest sins, and the narrator of The Tell-Tale Heart proves this notion to be true.
The Tell-Tale Heart is an exploration of the human psyche that has transcended the boundaries of time for its thrilling suspense and imagery. It is a perfect Halloween read and one of Poe’s best works.
The Tell-Tale Heart Book Review by Arulfo Eyao
Humans are emotional beings. This is because we often find ourselves in the depths of existentialism and moral dilemmas when it comes to life’s choices. Edgar Allan Poe greatly emphasizes this major human trait in his short story “The Tell Tale Heart”. From the poetic and simple narration of the very unreliable narrator, to the ridiculous plot that unravelled the entire suspense driven story into an amalgamation of tragic-comedy. Edgar Allan Poe takes us into the mind of a madman; and a story that will make you think more than it’ll make you laugh.
We first get introduced to an unnamed narrator, who, by the first paragraph, states the entire premise of this story. Judging that this narration is all happening in his head, he tries to deny his madness and just casually brushes over the confession of a murder he committed. Even if this approach to storytelling takes away the whole ‘surprise’ aspect, it greatly heightens the reader's sensitivity to the story that will be told. Given the ending, deconstructing it right off the bat gives readers this sense of belongingness. Yes, this man may be mad; but as he takes us through his intricate plan and the very reason for his crime -- we’re no different from him.
That is why this allowed the readers to understand the man to some extent. With his rich descriptions and unfamiliar comparisons -- “watch enveloped in cotton.” and “hellish tattoo of the heart.”, EAP lets us insert ourselves in the workings of the narrator's mind. With his deep hatred towards the man’s eyes, described as almost pale blue and enveloped in a film, there is no doubt that the narrator's anger is directed to himself. For his being is reflected in the man’s eyes. This is evident with how his anger worsened when he could hear his own heartbeats that yearned to tell the truth. Not only has his hatred for himself cost the life of an innocent man, it also cost his own freedom. Being in 19th century North America gave the best leeway for the final few paragraphs and the conclusion. With the quiet setting, it allowed an easy introduction to the police that let the narrator spiral into madness hours after his murder. All reflecting the calm after the Storm.
This approach to human morality was a refreshing take to read after being enveloped in countless murder mystery takes by hollywood flicks. Not only did it introduce us to an “antagonist” that let us understand him, but it also showed us that insanity (and sanity) can only be weighed upon by external forces. It can be driven by these external forces,but in the end, it all depends on how the person views it. May it be denial or acceptance, secrecy or the truth; there will always be a weight to our consequences, and a ring to our conscience.
Overall, this read was superb. Not only did it show that EAP knew the intricacies of human nature, but it also showed that he was indeed a prolific writer. His ability to connect with the readers made it so much enjoyable to read that I plan to read more of his works. Prior to this, I have not read a single EAP poem or short story, but after reading it, I can see that there are some elements of poetic prose that absolutely attract me as a reader. This read is a must for those who enjoy unreliable narration, morally gray characters, thrillers, and classics.