“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843. It is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator who is attempting to convince the reader of their sanity, despite their involvement in the murder of an old man with whom they lived.
The narrator becomes fixated on the old man’s eye, which they describe as “the vulture eye.” They claim that the eye is the source of their hatred for the old man and decide to kill him to rid themselves of the eye’s gaze. The narrator watches the old man’s bedroom every night, waiting for the opportunity to kill him.
On the eighth night, the narrator’s patience is rewarded and they enter the old man’s bedroom while he is sleeping. They kill him, dismembered his body, and hide the pieces under the floorboards. The narrator is confident that they have covered their tracks and will not be caught.
However, the narrator becomes increasingly paranoid and hears a noise that they believe is the old man’s heart still beating beneath the floorboards. They become convinced that the police can hear the noise as well and confess to the crime in order to rid themselves of the guilt and the noise.
In the end, the narrator’s guilt and paranoia lead to their downfall as they confess to the crime and are arrested. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a classic example of Poe’s use of psychological horror to explore themes of guilt, madness, and the consequences of our actions. The story is still widely read and analyzed today for its themes and use of suspense and tension.