Book Report – The Tell Tale Heart

“Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the boards and you shall see! I killed
him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?” ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story initially published in 1843 and is narrated by an unnamed character of whom the story is about. This story is about the stories protagonist, the narrator, and an old man that he cares to by day but is trying to destroy his “vulture-like eye” by night. The storyline is strongly influenced by the narrator’s emotions, especially guilt.


At the beginning of the story the narrator sets the tone initially by stating “It’s true, yes, I have been ill, very ill. But why do you say i have lost control of my mind? Why do you say I’m mad?… Indeed, the illness only made my mind, my feelings, my senses strong, more powerful.” From this the reader is straight away led to believe that the narrator is quite crazy and maybe even traumatised from an intense event they have experienced in the past. This theme is present throughout the entire story and it is evident that the man begins to lose his mind. From this insanity that he is suffering from, leads him to have different beliefs and thoughts that are certainly quite out of the ordinary and bizarre. His emotions take him over and he is driven by them to do actions he definitely wouldn’t normally do, especially to someone he takes care of. But because his emotions are so strong he forgets all about the good of the old man he usually shows compassion to and takes care of and he is only focussed on very small things, which are strong enough for him to cause harm. He believes that if he doesn’t follow these ambitions that he will be taken over by them, this being the “vulture eye.” Much like a vulture, he believes it will actually watch and wait until he is dead and pick up his scraps as a scavenger. He is driven by his emotions rather than logic or reason which is quite spooky to think about. These are distinct contrasting qualities, being that he has someone he cares so much for, but he also has a huge amount of hatred to them as well. Highly emotional and unstable characters such as the narrator are usually quite an important to gothic fiction as they create quite a eerie vibe and set the quite scary tone of the story. After reading the story, i felt quite as though it was quite scary because the story is almost realistic and the thought of that happening is quite daunting. I feel as though the character may have gone through something bad and he is going through post-traumatic stress or something like that. He feels as though these experiences have made him stronger but in actual fact he is actually quite frail and it has done the opposite. In my opinion, this is why he has the thoughts of causing harm because he is constantly worried that he is going to get hurt again so he has to destroy these thoughts, by taking actions towards them. He is so insane that things that aren’t even real and are in his imagination are going to cause him harm. This is an effect from his insanity and it is taking his body over and forcing him into things he wouldn’t do if he had never been “ill.” The author has used a really unique way of showing this by using the characters point of view and what they are thinking inside their head instead of just showing what is happening by observation. This is a very key aspect of how the story came across as scary because as the reader this makes it feel more scary. This puts the reader on the edge of their seat and intrigued, because they continue to read to see if the intense storyline has the ending of what the narrator is expecting it too, so it as if the narrator is in the same seat as the reader because even they don’t know the final outcome.


In conclusion, Edgar Allan Poe was able to create a story that left the reader wanting to see the final outcome. It shows contrasting qualities which can be put into perspective in everyday life. I also felt quite drawn into the story through learning thoughts of the narrator that are usually kept secret in other story’s narrations and i felt this quite spooky. Overall, i found this text to be quite unique to other short stories, this made me intrigued and wanted to read more.

One Reply to “Book Report – The Tell Tale Heart”

  1. Ethan,

    Thank you for submitting your response on time to receive feedback.

    You have a clear understanding of the events in The Tell Tale Heart.

    I would like to see you develop a stronger analysis around the gothic fiction element you have selected. How does the author use the common characteristics of that element effectively/ineffectively etc.

    You should also look to develop your use of evidence further.

    Mrs. P

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