On The tell-tale heart by Poe

As the frighteningly close US election is still in progress in the background, I thought I’d share another scary story to pass the time with whilst waiting for the vote count to finish. It is less orange in colour and unquestionably more enjoyable than the news right now.

The story is called The Tell-Tale heart and was first published in 1843, in the literary magazine The Pioneer. This thrilling short story is told by a dreadfully nervous man who is defending his own sanity while describing a murder he has committed. He describes the reason for murdering his victim, an old man who he claims to love, due to the old man having one pale blue eye that causes the murderers blood to run cold whenever he sees it. A vulture-eye he calls it. The murder is calculated and carefully committed with precision. But even after the old man has been dismembered and buried under the floorboards, the murderer is haunted by the sound of the dead man’s beating heart and is in the end driven to confession by feelings of his own guilt.

“Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work!”, the murderer says in an attempt to explain his actions. Edgar Allan Poe, a true master of mystery and macabre tales, starts this short story in medias res where the tension and suspense are already at a high. The rhythm of the language, combined with the beating of the heart creates a sensation that resembles music. To the murderer, declaring his sanity is more important than maintaining the perception of innocence. This short story explores many interesting themes such as paranoia, obsession and feelings of love in hate; it is a fantastic fall read!

I must clarify that the gender of the murderer or relationship to the old man is in fact never revealed, and the usage of he/him as a descriptive term is my own interpretation.

The Tell-Tale Heart is available on Scribd as an audiobook with narration by John Doyle. The deep and dramatic voice of Doyle certainly ads to the experience of the story. I urge you all to curl up in bed and listen!