Paranoia, was as friendly to the old

Paranoia, which is the irrational and persistent feeling that people are ‘out to get you’. In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, Poe is able to pull of a believable sense of paranoia. Like many of Poe’s other works, the “Tell-Tale Heart” is a dark story. This one focuses on the events leading to the death of an old man, and the events afterwards. That’s the basics of it, but there are many meanings hidden in the short story. Poe uses techniques such as irony, guilt, and plot.

One of the biggest elements in “The Tell Tale Heart” is the use of irony. In the beginning of the story the narrator says, “During all of that week I was as friendly to the old man as I could be, and warm, and loving” ( The quote is saying that the narrator was very nice and caring for the old man. This is definitely a good example of irony because the narrator  is anything but loving and caring. At the end of the story, the narrator kills the old man, chops him up, and puts his remains in the floorboards. Another thing the narrator says is, ” I took them through the whole house, telling them to search it all, to search it well” (Poestories.

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com). He thinks he wants them to search the whole house. But really the narrator does not want them to search the house because they will surely find the body of the old man.

In the majority of Poe’s stories irony is a very strong theme. And he portrays this theme very well by using both verbal and dramatic irony. Another major element in the “Tell Tale Heart” is guilt.

In the story the man talks about killing the old man because of his ‘vulture eye’. He ends up killing the man, but ends up confessing because the guilt was getting to him. “Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men — but the noise steadily increased” ( The narrator keeps hearing the beating of the heart and he is now feeling very anxious and wants the police  to leave because he doesn’t want them to find out about the old man. “Villains! I shrieked dissemble no more! I admit the deed!- Tear up the planks! Here, here- it is the beating of the hideous heart” (Poestories.

com). In this quote the narrator ends up feeling guilty for killing the old man and confesses to the murder. At this point in the story the man cannot take it anymore. The beating of the heart which is really the phantom beating in his own mind- is driving him crazy.  He realizes that he cannot live like this, it would lead to madness.  He must admit his deed to the authorities in order to not feel guilty anymore. Guilt is another big theme in this story. Because the narrator kills the old man, the narrator feels guilt and admits to the deed.

The outline of characters plays a big role in the plot, without strong characters, the ideas the author writes would seem good. There are four characters in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator, the old man who was killed, the neighbour who called police, and the police who came to investigate. The narrator tried to cover his insanity and show that he is sane.  “The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country” ( He tries to cover the crime up by lying and saying that he was gone, even though he was dead. The old man with a blue eye that the narrator is afraid of is probably the owner of the house. Nothing the narrator tells the reader about the old man really makes sense but makes sense to the narrator because he says, “Madmen know nothing” (Poestories.

com).  After killing the old man, he acted pretty normal meeting with the police. But as the conversation went on he got more nervous because of the sound of the old man’s heart beat.Then finally admitted to the killing of the old man.

Edgar Allan Poe, the writer of this story, uses irony to help develop suspense in “The Tell Tale Heart.” He uses guilt to show what it can do to a person in the end. Also, Poe uses plot to make the narrator feel guilty. Poe has the narrator think that he can hear the old man’s heart, which causes him to confess to the crime.


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