Tell-Tale Heart

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Story by Poe, published in The Pioneer (1843). It has been considered the most influential of Poe's stories in the later development of stream-of-consciousness fiction.

A victim of a nervous disease is overcome by homicidal mania and murders an innocent old man in whose home he lives. He confuses the ticking of the old man's watch with an excited heartbeat, and although he dismembers the body he neglects to remove the watch when he buries the pieces beneath the floor. The old man's dying shriek has been overheard, and three police officers come to investigate. They discover nothing, and the murderer claims that the old man is absent in the country, but when they remain to question him he hears a loud rhythmic sound that he believes to be the beating of the buried heart. This so distracts his diseased mind that he suspects the officers know the truth and are merely trying his patience, and in an insane fit he confesses his crime.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Edgar Allan Poe (1809—1849) American short-story writer, poet, and critic

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