Exploring the Methods Used by the Narrator to Kill the Old Man in “The Tell-Tale Heart”



The story of the narrator and the old man is a dark and chilling tale of madness, obsession, and murder. The unnamed narrator is a disturbed individual who lives with the old man, whom he claims to have loved deeply, but whose appearance has become an obsession for him. The old man, on the other hand, is a wealthy, kind-hearted and defenseless person who is unaware of his roommate’s dark thoughts.

The narrator’s obsession with the old man’s eye, which he describes as the “vulture eye,” is the reason for his descent into madness. The eye haunts him relentlessly, and he becomes increasingly obsessed with the idea of getting rid of it. He sees the eye everywhere and is tormented by its presence.

As the story progresses, the narrator’s obsession with the eye becomes unbearable. He begins to hear the heartbeats of the old man and believes that they are too loud and too erratic. He decides that he must get rid of the old man and his “evil eye” once and for all. And so, he sets out to commit a murder that will reveal the depths of his madness.

The Narrator’s Obsession

Edgar Allan Poe The Tell-Tale Heart

The narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is consumed and obsessed with the old man’s eye, which he believes needs to be eliminated. The narrator provides several reasons for his obsession and explains his thought process, which leads him to commit murder.

First, the narrator describes the old man’s eye as resembling a vulture’s eye. This description is significant as it invokes terror, as vultures are known for their association with death. The narrator cannot stand the eye’s resemblance to a vulture, and this evokes a sense of disgust in him. The narrator finds the eye unsightly and disturbing, stating, “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold,” which provides insight into his state of mind about the eye.

Second, the narrator admits that there is no reason for him to hate the old man. The old man has never wronged him, nor has the narrator been mistreated in any way. There appears to be no motive for him to want to harm the old man other than his obsession with the eye. In fact, the narrator claims that he loved the old man and visited him nightly, except when the eye would “wink” at him, which would infuriate the narrator. The narrator’s hatred of the eye builds up, leading to his obsession and eventual murder.

Third, the narrator believes that he is doing the right thing by eliminating the eye. The narrator believes that the eye is evil and needs to be destroyed to relieve his conscience. He believes that by committing this murder, he is relieving the old man of the eye’s evil power and restoring order to the world. According to the narrator, he is not a madman but rather an individual with a sound mind who is acting in the best interests of society. This delusion leads him to justify his actions and believe that he is doing the right thing.

Finally, the narrator’s obsession reaches a point where he needs to eliminate the eye at any cost. He is consumed with the thought of the eye, and it becomes his sole focus in life. The narrator states, “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man and thus rid myself of the eye forever.” This statement emphasizes the extent of his obsession and the fact there was no other option for him than to commit the murder.

In conclusion, the narrator’s obsession with the old man’s eye and his belief that it needs to be eliminated is a driving force behind the story’s narrative. His obsession has no apparent reason and leads him to commit murder. The narrator believes that he is justified in his actions and is not mad but rather has a sound mind. The story highlights the danger of obsession and how it can lead to extreme actions such as murder.

The Planning Stage

The Planning Stage

The narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” carefully plans the murder of the old man to avoid getting caught. His obsession with the old man’s vulture-like eye drives him to madness and his desire to kill becomes uncontainable.

The narrator begins his preparations by spending a week spying on the old man, observing his habits, and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. He knows that the old man’s death must be swift and silent to avoid detection, and he devises a plan to kill him while he is sleeping, with no witnesses around.

The narrator puts all the details in place—the time, the place, and the method of the murder—and waits for the perfect moment to execute his plan. He keeps reminding himself that he must not rush and should be patient, waiting for the right moment to strike. He is determined to commit the perfect crime- one where he can’t be caught.

The narrator prepares thoroughly for the murder, even going so far as to practice his movements and techniques, by stalking and sneaking around his own apartment at night, in complete darkness. He prepares for every scenario that might happen and thinks about how to cover up his tracks to leave no evidence of his crime behind.

The narrator waits for the perfect moment to execute his plan and finally, on the eighth night, he puts his plan into motion. He goes to the old man’s bedroom and slowly opens his door with trembling hands. He then gradually slides the lantern light into the room, illuminating the old man’s eye. With the sound of his heartbeat truly deafening, he finally suffocates the old man using his mattress. The narrator then dismembers the body and stashes it under the floorboards to hide the evidence.

The narrator, feeling confident about his perfect crime, unaccounted for the possibility of the guilt creeping in. Eventually, he cracks under the pressure of his own conscience and ends up confessing to the murder to the police. The story ends with his confession, as he can no longer deal with the sound of the old man’s heart-beat in his mind.

Overall, the narrator’s planning stage in “The Tell-Tale Heart” depicts his careful strategic preparation to commit the perfect crime, one where he would not be caught. However, his own guilt and conscience ultimately lead to his undoing.

The Execution

The Execution

As the narrator obsessively watches the old man sleep each night, he plans and ultimately executes his gruesome murder. The narrator reveals that the old man’s vulture-like eye, which was always closed, is the motive for his murderous intentions. Finally, on the eighth night, the narrator decides that the time has come to carry out his plan.

As the old man sleeps soundly, the narrator stealthily enters the bedroom and creeps towards the bed. The narrator tells us that at this point, the old man “was a dead man” because “his death warrant was signed”. However, the narrator remains cautious and moves very slowly to avoid waking the old man up.

Once the narrator reaches the bed, he shines a small beam of light from a lantern he is carrying towards the old man’s eye. The light reflects the eye’s hazy blue color, and the narrator states that the eye “troubled” him and “made [his] blood run cold”.

The narrator then waits for an hour in complete silence, waiting for the old man’s deep and steady breathing to indicate that he is asleep. After confirming that the old man is in deep slumber, the narrator drags his bed on top of the old man and suffocates him to death.

Even after committing the gruesome act, the narrator proceeds with a calm demeanor, making sure to conceal the old man’s corpse by dismembering it and hiding it beneath the floorboards. The sound of the old man’s heart beating from beneath the floorboards finally drives the narrator to confess to his crime, imagining the police authorities mocking his calm demeanor while investigating the old man’s disappearance.

In this story, the narrator’s detailed narration of the act of murder and the aftermath of his crime makes it impossible for us to sympathize with him or justify his actions. The narrator’s madness and obsession with the old man’s eye are evident with every word that he utters, and he ultimately succumbs to his own guilt and paranoia.

The Aftermath

Police investigation

After the narrator kills the old man in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” he is left with the challenging task of disposing of the body. Despite multiple attempts to cover up the murder, the narrator eventually begins to feel tormented and hears the beating of the old man’s heart. Let’s explore in detail how the narrator manages to dispose of the old man’s body and convince the police that nothing is wrong.

Disposing of the Body


Firstly, the narrator dismembers the body and conceals it underneath the floorboards. He even takes care to clean up any signs of blood. The narrator seems to think that this is the perfect plan, and no one will suspect him of the murder. However, much to his dismay, he begins to hear the sound of the old man’s beating heart, and it becomes too much for him to bear. The guilt consumes him, leading him to confess to the murder.

The Temporary Relief


For a brief moment, after he kills the old man, the narrator seems to feel relieved. He checks all night and through the morning to ensure that he has not left any blood stains or fingerprints behind. He appears to be satisfied with his work and convinces himself that he is safe as no one knows what he has done. However, the beating of the old man’s heart haunts him. He becomes paranoid and eventually confesses to the murder.

Convincing the Police

Police investigation

When the police visit the house, the narrator appears to be calm and composed and invites the officers inside with ease. He sits and chats with them amicably, and at one point, even brings them chairs and sets them on top of the floorboards where the old man’s body is concealed. He speaks in a friendly tone and implies to the police that he has nothing to hide. He even encourages them to search every part of the house. However, as the sound of the old man’s heartbeat gets louder, the narrator becomes more anxious and uncomfortable. Eventually, his guilt gets the better of him, and he confesses to the murder.

The Consequence


The narrator’s attempt to get away with the murder of the old man unsurprisingly fails. Despite his efforts to cover up the murder, the beating of the old man’s heart eventually leads to his downfall. The narrator is overcome by guilt and hallucinations and finally breaks down and confesses to the police. He is detained and sent to prison without any hope of reprieve. The consequence of his actions results in his own undoing, and he faces a life of punishment.

The Psychological Impact

Psychological Impact

After committing a heinous crime, the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” struggles with the psychological impact of his actions. The murder of the old man weighs heavily on his conscience, sending him spiraling into a state of paranoia and guilt.

The narrator’s psyche is immediately affected by the murder. He becomes increasingly anxious and paranoid, believing that he can hear the old man’s heart beating beneath the floorboards. This sound, whether real or imagined, drives him mad with guilt and fear. He obsesses over the sound, becoming convinced that the police can hear it too and will soon discover his crime.

As the story progresses, the narrator’s mental state deteriorates further. He becomes increasingly erratic and unstable, confessing to the murder in a fit of madness and desperation. His behavior becomes more unpredictable as he becomes consumed by his guilt and fear of being caught.

The psychological impact of the murder is so great that the narrator ultimately gives himself away. His confession serves as a release, allowing him to rid himself of the overwhelming guilt and paranoia that had plagued him since he committed the crime. However, it also demonstrates the severe impact that his actions had on his mental health.

In many ways, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a cautionary tale about the dangers of allowing guilt and paranoia to consume us. The narrator’s descent into madness serves as a warning that our actions can have unforeseen consequences, both on ourselves and on those around us.

The story also suggests that guilt and paranoia can lead to self-destruction. By obsessing over the sound of the old man’s heartbeat, the narrator loses sight of his own sanity, eventually confessing to the murder and sealing his own fate.

Overall, the psychological impact of the murder in “The Tell-Tale Heart” serves as a powerful reminder of the ways in which our actions can affect our mental health. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming consumed by guilt and fear, and a stark reminder that our actions always have consequences, whether we like them or not.

The Lesson

The Lesson

One of Edgar Allan Poe’s most disturbing stories is “The Tell-Tale Heart,” which tells the story of a madman who murders an old man whom he loved and killed in his sleep. The narrator, whose name is not given, claims that he is not insane, but his relentless obsession with the old man’s vulture-like eye may prove otherwise.

The narrator’s account of the murder is chilling. He claims that he carefully plotted each step, including killing the old man in his sleep in order to avoid any alarm or resistance. After the old man was dead, the narrator dismembered his body and buried it beneath the floorboards of his bedroom.

Despite the horror of the story, there are moral and ethical implications that we can learn from it.

The Dangers of Obsession


One of the most obvious lessons to be learned from “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the danger of obsession. The narrator’s obsessive fixation on the old man’s eye leads him to commit a horrible act that he may have been able to resist if he had had a better understanding of his own emotions and psychological state.

It is easy to become fixated on a particular person, place, or thing, but we must be careful not to let that fixation grow into an unhealthy obsession. Obsession can cloud our judgment and lead us to make choices that we will later regret.

The Power of Guilt


Another lesson that can be learned from “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the power of guilt. After the murder, the narrator tries to convince himself that he is not insane and that he has committed a rational act. However, his guilt and fear eventually drive him to confess his crime to the police, even though he knows that this will likely lead to his own arrest and punishment.

Guilt can be a powerful motivator, and it is important that we consider the consequences of our actions before we act. If we act hastily and without consideration for the implications of our actions, we may find ourselves grappling with feelings of guilt and regret later on.

The Importance of Self-Reflection


Finally, “The Tell-Tale Heart” teaches us the importance of self-reflection. The narrator is convinced that he is not insane, but his actions and thoughts suggest otherwise. If he had taken the time to reflect on his emotions and motivations, he may have been able to recognize the danger of his obsession and avoid committing a terrible act.

It is important for all of us to take time to reflect on our thoughts and emotions. We must be honest with ourselves about our motivations and our actions, and be willing to seek help when we need it. By doing so, we can avoid making choices that we will later regret.



“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a disturbing story that raises important questions about morality and ethics. Through the narrator’s actions, we are reminded of the dangers of obsession and the power of guilt. We are also encouraged to reflect on our own thoughts and motivations, and to seek help when we need it.

Ultimately, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a cautionary tale that reminds us of the consequences of our actions, and the importance of taking responsibility for our own well-being and the well-being of others around us.


heart beating fast

In conclusion, the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” kills the old man after obsessing over his “vulture eye” and planning the murder for a week. The narrator’s perspective and mental state create a sense of tension throughout the story, leading to the reader questioning the character’s reliability.

The narrator’s method for killing the old man is cruel and brutal. He sneaks into the old man’s room every night for seven nights, watching him sleep and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. On the eighth night, the narrator wakes the old man up, and the man screams, realizing that there is someone in his room. The narrator jumps on the old man, suffocating him with his mattress and dismembering his body, hiding the pieces under the floorboards.

The narrator’s perspective is distorted, and he believes that he is not insane but rather a rational thinker with a heightened sense of hearing. He even invites three police officers to search his home, knowing that the old man’s scream will not be heard. However, the narrator becomes increasingly nervous, and his heartbeat begins to overpower everything in the room, causing him to confess to the murder. The story comes full circle when the narrator hears the old man’s heartbeat under the floorboards, indicating his guilt and descent into madness.

Readers should reflect on the dangers of obsession and the consequences of allowing one’s perspective to distort reality. The narrator’s obsession with the old man’s “vulture eye” ultimately leads to his demise and serves as a warning against fixating on the flaws and imperfections of others. Additionally, readers should consider the importance of mental health and seek help when necessary to avoid the narrator’s descent into madness.

Overall, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a haunting and unsettling story that explores the dark depths of the human psyche. Edgar Allan Poe’s mastery of suspense and horror creates a chilling reading experience that forces readers to confront their own perceptions of reality and the consequences of their actions.

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