Friday, February 6, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Tell-Tale Heart

This week's Poe Friday selection is the fairly short story The Tell-Tale Heart. Since this is a 4 page story, here a couple of passages:

"It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture - a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees - very gradually - I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever."

"No doubt I now grew very pale; - but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased - and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound - much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath - and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly - more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men - but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed - I raved - I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder - louder - louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! - no, no! They heard! - they suspected! - they knew! - they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now - again! - hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! - tear up the planks! here, here! - It is the beating of his hideous heart!'"

One of the reasons that I don't read a lot of short stories is that they are usually a glimpse of life rather than a tale with a plot. However, Poe has the ability to pack so much emotion and suspense into a few short pages that his stories are always compelling. This is one of my favorite ones because of the questionable mental health of the narrator from the very start of the tale. Though he has committed murder and lost his mind, he still tries to justify his actions. I'm fairly certain, though, that "his eye was creeping me out" wouldn't hold up against a murder charge in court.

For next week I have chosen another short story, The Black Cat.

Checking and finding my sanity intact,


  1. My post is up here. I've never read The Black Cat, so I'm looking forward to next week!

  2. Another favorite and late again!! Here's my link . . .