1. The Tell Tale Heart


  1. 1. Why did the narrator or the hero kill the old man? What was wrong with the eye of the old man?

The narrator in the story or the hero or the killer was not mad, but he was very nervous. This disease of nervousness had sharpened his senses. He loved and respected the old man because he had never wronged him. “He had never given me insult.” But one thing always haunted him. That was the pale-blue eye of the old man, which was as hideous as the eye of a vulture. It had a film over it. It was not the old man but his evil eye that troubled him. Whenever the old man saw him with that eye, his blood ran cold. He, therefore, made up his mind to kill the old man and rid himself of that evil for every Although the narrator did not consider himself to be mad, yet he was, in fact, a maniac. The reason  for  which  he  killed  the  old  man was not sound  enough  for murder. Nobody  in  his senses  can  kill  a  man just  for  his ugly appearance.  Therefore  the killer  was  not  a  normal man  in  full possession of his senses. 181


  1. 2. How did the narrator manage to murder the old man?

The narrator, with the intention to murder the old man, proceeded with great caution. Just before a week of killing him, he was very kind to him. He waited for many nights to get an opportunity to kill him. Every night, at about midnight, he opened the door of his room by turning the latch. He made an opening in the door to thrust in his head. It took him almost an hour to put his whole head within the opening. He repeated this practice for seven nights in the hope of finding the vulture eye open, but it was always closed. At eight night, suddenly his thumb slipped on the tin fastening and the old man sprang up in the bed and he heard the groan of the old man. The murderer threw a thin ray of his lantern upon the eye of the old man. He became furious to see the vulture eye. It provided him the cause of killing. He could hear the fast heartbeat of the old man. With a loud cry he moved into the room and pulled the heavy bed on the old man. The old man shrieked only for once and died instantly. Afterwards the murderer chopped his corpse. He cut off the head, the arms and the legs of the old man and hid them underground. 224


Q.3.     What happens after the murder?

Or       The heartbeat of the old man proved a cause for the murderer’s arrest.      Discuss.

It is strange to note that the vulture eye of the old man was the major cause of old man’s murder. At the time of murder, the heartbeat of the old man made the killer more angry to kill him at once. At the last scene, it was again the heartbeat of the old man that proved a cause of the murderer’s arrest.

By 4O’clock, the killer had disposed off the old man’s dead-body. Just then there came three policemen who told him that some of the neighbours had reported a cry in that house. The killer confidently told them that it was his own cry during sleep. He said the old man was not at home. The policemen searched the house, but found nothing. Being overconfident he brought chairs into the room and placed his own chair right on the spot where the corpse was hidden. The killer began to chat with them.

Suddenly, he heard the same heartbeat of the old man that he listened at the time of murder. He tried to keep cool, but the noise became louder. He thought the policemen were also hearing that noise and tried to hush up the fear by speaking loudly. He got so nervous that he confessed the murder and handed himself over to the police. So the story has been titled as the Tell-Tale Heart as the heart proves helpful for the murderer’s arrest. 236


Q: 4    Describe the elements of suspense and horror in the story?

The story is replete with the elements of suspense and horror. From the beginning till end we are suspense bound what is going on happening next. The incident of murder and the arrest of murderer are full of suspense.

First of all we are terrified with horror that the murderer wants to kill the old man merely on a petty reason. The murderer speaks again and again to the readers as if we were standing before him, “You fancy me mad, mad men know nothing. But you should have seen me”.

The old man springs up in the bed and keeps sitting for a long time making the atmosphere full of suspense. While we see the old man’s groaning we are also horrified as does he with horror. How horrible when one knows that someone is going to be killed. Then the murderer makes no noise while he is in the room is also full of suspense.

We feel extreme horror when the murderer throws light upon the vulture eye of the old man and we know that the last moments of the old man have approached. Afterwards his chopping the corpse is really intolerable. The last scene of is full of suspense when the murderer admits his crime by listening the heartbeat of the old man but actually it was the punishment of his conscience which prompts him to do so

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