Analysis of The Tell-tale Heart

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 942 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Words: 942|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Hook Examples for "The Tell-Tale Heart" Essay
  2. "The Tell-Tale Heart" Essay Example
  3. Works Cited

Hook Examples for "The Tell-Tale Heart" Essay

  • An Eerie Opening: Picture a dimly lit room, a vengeful heart, and the relentless sound of a heartbeat. Join me as we descend into the chilling world of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" to unravel the depths of madness and guilt.
  • An Intriguing Quote: Edgar Allan Poe once wrote, "True!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?" Let's delve into the narrator's confession and the psychological intricacies that lie within.
  • A Psychological Exploration: What drives a person to commit murder and then be haunted by the sound of their victim's heart? Join me in a deep dive into the disturbed mind of the narrator, as we dissect the elements of obsession, guilt, and madness in the story.
  • An Unreliable Narrator: The narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart" is anything but reliable. Explore with me how his unreliability as a storyteller adds layers of complexity to the narrative, blurring the lines between truth and delusion.
  • A Tale of Darkness: "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a masterpiece of Gothic literature. Let's journey together through the macabre and mysterious elements that define this story and examine how Poe's writing style amplifies the sense of dread and horror.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" Essay Example

Human experiences can be both unique and universal. Arthur Miller’s 1953 tragedy, The Crucible resonates with his own McCarthyist context which teaches us about ourselves and our shared human experiences by creating engaging, compelling and often troubled characters who are very real and flawed but continue to appeal to all members of society. In the short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allen Poe creates this compelling portrait of a flawed man and focuses on the certifiable voice of an unnamed narrator. This character allows a sense of relatability to any audience, as everyone shares his human experiences of overwhelming emotion. Through the ideas of guilt and a struggle to remain in control, and reputation these are explored in both the play and short story. The individual voices of the characters are authentic and lead to an understanding of the flawed and complex humans who evoke a range of emotions in the audience.

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Guilt and a struggle to remain in control : Though still incredibly important to the play and short story, the idea of guilt and the struggle to remain in control is explored through passing comments and quips made by the characters, probably to reflect the subdued culture of the small town of Salem in The Crucible or the house of the narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart. More than being a part of a corrupt society, Proctor values his name, he is an individualist who makes up his own mind and trusts his judgement. The fact that he has “sinned” with Abigail causes him to view himself as a hypocrite, “I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is fraud. I am not that man.” The urgent tone of voice and the high modality of “I cannot…”/I am not”, emphasises his individual voice making the audience aware of how flawed and complex a human being he is. On the other hand, first-person narration in the short story is also used in the opening paragraph where the unnamed narrator states, “ very dreadfully nervous I had been and am:… will you say that I am mad?… observe how calmly I can tell you the whole story.” Already his guilty conscience comes through in his attempt to reassure the audience of his healthy mind which contradicts the purpose behind the motiveless murder. The multiple dashes, exclamation and question marks, suggests that he is an excitable person. His single voice leads us to the understanding of our collective nature of trying to save ourselves from judgement. This highlights the collective experience of the damaging effects of guilt. It shows us that when we believe we have nothing left to lose, ultimately we confess. In Act 4, the stage direction of “laughs insanely” after Proctor’s verbal attack on Danforth, alludes to how close Proctor was driven by a corrupt community to breaking point. Succumbing to the human experience of confession as an effect of his guilt. In the chilling story, the narrator also confesses that the murder of the old man was a motiveless crime – “I loved him … his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this!” it suggests the guilt on his mind was driving him mad. Both these texts lead to the understanding of the flawed and complex human experiences, though disturbing, yet somewhat understandable. These moral paradoxes highlight how devastating the effects of secrecy and guilt can be as well as our constant refusal to confront the issues that we all face.

Reputation: One of our greatest flaws as humans is that we often care more about what people think of us rather than what we think of ourselves. Reputation often has more importance than integrity, in Salem. Living in the theocratic society forced everyone in the play, to focus and maintain their public appearance as they lived in fear that their sins and those of their friends and family would taint their names. In such a rigid society, there was no room at all for individuals to express their own beliefs and ideas, Miller uses the law as a metaphor for God’s will, therefore implying going against the court was like worshipping the devil. “my ministry’s at stake, my ministry…” The repetition of “my” highlights that his daughter’s health is not as important compared to what he is going to face. When times are tough we often lose sight of what is right and just and think about ourselves. The human experience is explored through the character of Parris, due to the pressure of society, he is forced to become selfish. The Tell-Tale Heart also explores the sometimes blurred lines between reputation and integrity. The lonely voice of the unnamed narrator constantly asks the audience not to consider him mad. “ …you fancy me mad…But you should have seen me … How wisely I proceeded” the need to constantly try and persuade the audience proves he cares about his name and will try everything to try to get us to see the story from his view and hopes for a slither of understanding from the reader. The short story and play’s portrayal of the difficulty of balancing integrity and reputation are highlighted through their thoughts about reputation which make them vulnerable, therefore authentic. Through their authenticity, we are able to see the complexities of human experiences and humanity.

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Through the human experiences of guilt, confession, reputation and integrity, The Crucible and The Tell-Tale Heart highlight individual voices which speak on behalf of a much larger society. The true beauty of human nature in all it’s vulnerability and complexities is explored through literature which helps us build a greater understanding of humanity’s core.

Works Cited

  1. Bloom, H. (2003). Hamlet: Poem Unlimited. Riverhead Books.
  2. Boyce, C. (2019). Revenge and Gender in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Routledge.
  3. Coddon, K. (2010). Shakespeare, Violence, and the Early Modern Stage. Oxford University Press.
  4. Dusinberre, J. (2007). Shakespeare and the Nature of Man. Palgrave Macmillan.
  5. Garber, M. (2013). Shakespeare and Modern Culture. Anchor Books.
  6. Greenblatt, S. (2010). Hamlet in Purgatory. Princeton University Press.
  7. Kastan, D. S. (2002). Shakespeare after Theory. Routledge.
  8. Mowat, B. A., & Werstine, P. (Eds.). (2006). Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Folger Shakespeare Library.
  9. Smith, E. (2012). Hamlet and Revenge. Edinburgh University Press.
  10. Wells, S. (2003). Hamlet: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism. Palgrave Macmillan.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Analysis Of The Tell-Tale Heart. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Analysis Of The Tell-Tale Heart.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
Analysis Of The Tell-Tale Heart. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Analysis Of The Tell-Tale Heart [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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