“The Tell-Tale Heart” is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short stories. The story was first published in a Boston magazine, The Pioneer, in January 1843.
The story is told by an unnamed narrator who tries to convince the reader of his sanity while describing how he killed an old man. The narrator says he suffers from nervousness, and that the old man’s pale, “vulture-like” eye upset him so much that he plotted to kill the old man. He says he loves the old man, but hates the eye. For seven nights the narrator opens the door to the old man’s room in order to shine a sliver of light onto the “evil eye.” But the old man’s eye is always closed.
On the eighth night, the old man awakens after the narrator accidentally makes a noise, interrupting the ritual. After a time the narrator decides to open his lantern, and light shines directly on the old man’s eye. What happens afterwards is a truly chilling and classic example of Gothic fiction.
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic. He was born in 1809 in Boston. His poems and stories of horror and mystery captured the imagination of readers around the world, and he is sometimes called the “Father of the Detective Story.” Many aspects of Poe’s life are mysteries themselves, including the cause of his death in 1849.
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