“The Tell-Tale Heart” Write Up by Jackson Wagner

This short story puts the short in story. It does, however, manage to tell a fascinating tale which puts the spotlight on paranoia and the toll it can have. The most valuable thing I think one could take away from this tale is Poe’s economic word choice. He spends words like the last pennies in a beggar’s pocket. It leads to a concise, yet immensely satisfying read. Poe also gives the point of view of a murderer attempting to avoid capture. The reasons he gives for this evil man’s drive to slay is both fascinating and unusual. He makes a point of saying how he’s not mad and how his victim is being killed simply because of his evil eye. This leaves us thinking even after the story about the true reason for the noise he heard, as well as the drive he had for killing the old man. Was it truly about the evil eye? Or was this a metaphor for some trauma he had suffered at the man’s hand? Or was he, despite his claims, truly mad? The ending also leaves us wondering why the man’s paranoia ended with his doom. He had gotten away with the murder clean, the police were convinced of his innocence. The best of stories are the ones that leave you thinking long after you finish them. With his economic word use, and fascinating ending, Poe easily lands the “Tell Tale Heart” in this vaunted group.

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