The Tell-Tale Heart

I denne study guide kan du få hjælp til at analysere novellen "The Tell-Tale Heart" af Edgar Allan Poe, som kan findes i antologien Wider Contexts, s. 154-160. Udover analysehjælpen kan du finde et summary af teksten samt idéer til fortolkning og perspektivering. 

Præsentation af teksten

Titel: “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843)
Forfatter: Edgar Allan Poe
Genre: Short story

Edgar Allan Poe​ (1809-1849) var en amerikansk forfatter. Mange af hans digte og noveller ligger inden for horrorgenren og berører ofte temaer som død og sindssygdom.  

“The Tell-Tale Heart” er en af Poes mest berømte noveller. Den blev første gang udgivet i 1843 i det litterære tidsskrift The Pioneer.

Uddrag

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Title

The title of the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe has both a literal and a symbolic meaning.

In the literal sense, the title reflects how the sound of a beating heart makes the narrator confess his crime. “Tell-tale” as an adjective means something that indicates or gives evidence of a certain thing. Therefore, the beating heart indicates the murder of the old man and drives the narrator to provide evidence of his guilt.

In the symbolic sense, the tell-tale heart reflects the guilty conscience of the narrator. The narrator begins hearing the sound of a beating heart right before he commits the murder: “there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart” (p. 156, ll. 28-30). The narrator gets infuriated and scared by hearing this sound, as his fixation with the man’s eye makes him overlook his guilt.

The fact that the narrator worries that neighbours will hear the man’s loud heartbeat (p. 156, l. 43) suggests that the narrator tries to hide his guilt. However, the guilt returns when the narrator is directly confronted with the consequences of his actions, in the form of the police showing up at the narrator’s door. While talking to the police, the narrator hears the sound of a heart once more: “Yet the sound increased –and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound –much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton” (p. 157, l. 44 – p. 158, ll. 1-2). His sense of guilt grows so intense that he finally confesses to the murder stating that “ ‘here, here! – It is the beating of his hideous heart!’ ” (p. 158, l. 19)

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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