The Tell-Tale Heart Quiz

The Tell-Tale Heart Quiz

The Tell-Tale Heart 

Short Story by Edgar Allan Poe


While insisting he is not mad, the narrator describes his obsession with the idea of killing an old man who lives in his house. When he actually commits the murder, he focuses on a sound that he takes to be the beating of the old man’s heart. Then he hides his victim’s dismembered body under the floor. When the police arrive to investigate, the narrator begins to hear a pounding sound that grows louder and louder. Convinced that the sound he hears is the old man’s heart, the tormented narrator confesses his crime.

text analysis: suspense 

Writers often “hook” readers by creating a sense of excitement, tension, dread, or fear about what will happen next. This feeling is called suspense. Edgar Allan Poe uses the following techniques to develop suspense: 

• describing a character’s anxiety or fear 

• choosing vivid words to describe dramatic sights and sounds 

• repeating words, phrases, or characters’ actions

reading skill: evaluate narrator 

Have you ever suspected someone was not telling you the truth? Just as you can’t trust every person you meet, you can’t believe all narrators, or characters who tell a story. To evaluate a narrator’s reliability, or trustworthiness, pay attention to his or her actions, attitudes, and statements. Do any raise your suspicions? As you read “The Tell-Tale Heart,” record clues that reveal whether the narrator is reliable or not.

Edgar Allan Poe 1809–1849 Orphan at Two Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston to parents who made their livings as traveling actors. When Poe was two, his father deserted the family. Less than a year later, his mother died. Edgar was raised in Virginia by family friends, the Allans. After being expelled from both the University of Virginia and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Poe began writing for a living. 

“Madness or Melancholy” 

Poe got a job as a journalist to support himself and his young wife while he worked on the stories and poems that would earn him the title “father of the modern mystery.” A master of suspense, he wrote works that were often dark and full of horrifying images. Poems such as “The Raven” and short stories such as “The Pit and the Pendulum” brought him fame but no fortune. Poverty intensified his despair when his wife, Virginia, fell ill and died. Deeply depressed, Poe died two years later after being found on the streets of Baltimore. Poe’s obituary stated he was a man of astonishing skill, a dreamer who walked “in madness or melancholy.” 

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