Structure

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Beginning

The story begins in medias res, or in the middle of events. The first question “True – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” (p. 154, ll. 1-2) represents a narrative hook, meant to draw the reader’s attention. Therefore, the exposition presents the narrator directly addressing the reader. The narrator argues that he is nervous but…

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Middle

In the rising action, the narrator begins to describe how he sets up the plan to murder the old man. By explaining his procedure and by underlining his stealth and cunning, the narrator intends to prove his lucidity and reason. However, ironically, the man only incriminates himself further.

The narrator directly states the crime he committed: “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him” (p. 155, ll. 6-7). The remark “I undid the lantern cautiously – oh, so cautiously – cautiously (for the hinges creaked)” (p. 155, ll. 16-…

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Ending

In the falling action, the narrator describes how he hides the body behind the floorboards. He then recounts his encounter with the police, who have been alerted by a neighbour.

A tension point is created when the narrator begins hearing the sound of a heartbeat: “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).

In the resolution, the narrator becomes …

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