Tall Tale Heart

In: English and Literature

Submitted By alex5091
Words 1605
Pages 7
Alejandro Almonte
Percy Haynes
English 201
September 27, 2014

“A Question of Motive in The Tell Tale Heart”

Why did the man in The Tell Tale Heart kill the old man? That is the question that Poe asks you to ponder in his story yet he gives us scant clues as to the answer. The motive eludes us even as the murderer is guilted into confessing by his own mind and then goes on to thoroughly detail his gruesome deed. The murderer will be referred to as “he” although his sex is never revealed, he refers to himself as a “madman” within this first person narrative (Shen, 287). This piece is tightly written, short to read and it builds at a frantic and hurried pace and then climaxes abruptly. This leaves the reader craving more details and to wishing confirm the man’s motives. Poe’s story consists of the author’s unique ability to create grotesque inventiveness and superb plot construction (Shen, 275). Some interpret the old man as the father of the murderer and his act a release of built up tension and resentment toward him (DeBord, 1). There appears to be no familial bond in the heart of the man when describing the old man, he also lacks the rage that one would expect if the act were resentment fueled murder. Instead the old man seems to be a fond acquaintance of our murderer, because they reside within the same home it can be hypothesized that one or the other is simply a boarder in the other’s home. There is no malice, no greed and no disdain to motivate him, he even claims to love the old man. When one compares his actions to his personal account of their relationship this leads us to the probable conclusion that the man is in fact mad. But is it truly madness? The main character is desperately trying to convince us of his sanity yet none of his deeds are sane. His zeal in describing his lack of insanity only makes him appear more insane, therefore Poe is…...

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