ENG-112-91 Composition & Literature
September 26, 2010
QUESTIONS 1-5 FROM “The Tell-Tale Heart”
1) From what point of view is Poe’s story told? Why is this point of view particularly effective for “The Tell-Tale Heart”?
Poe’s story is told in the Participant Narrator point of view. This is an especially effective point of view for this story because it allows the reader to see inside the mind of the killer. This allows us to bear witness to the killer’s mental deterioration and his eventual insanity.
2) Point to details in the story that identify its speaker as an unreliable narrator.
From the very first line of the story the narrator declares himself mad, but then assures the reader it is in fact an advantage. That was the first time the reader sees the unreliability of the narrator. Also anyone who kills a man because his eye fixes on him like a vulture is obviously not right. Throughout the story the narrator hears and surmises things that are obviously insane or disturbed, and certainly unreliable.
3) What do we know about the old man in the story? What motivates the narrator to kill him?
We know very little of the old man. From the opening few paragraphs the reader can comfortably surmise that the old man has some amount of wealth (as the narrator pointedly notes that he had no want of his gold. Further one may conclude the old man was of a generally nice manner as he had never wronged nor insulted the killer. The last piece of knowledge we have concerning the old man is that he a has a pale blue eye with an opacity over it.
4) In spite of all his precautions, the narrator does not commit the perfect crime. What trips him up?
The primary mistake in the killing that led to the killer’s capture was his failure to kill with surprise. The killer yells as he strikes and the old man shrieks once as the fatal blow is struck. This cry had been heard by a neighbor during the night, thus arousing the... [continues]
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