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37 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1843

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Introduction

Teacher Introduction

“The Tell-Tale Heart”

  • Genre: Fiction; Gothic horror
  • Originally Published: 1843
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 1220L; grades 9 and up
  • Structure/Length: Short story; approximately 10 pages; approximately 18 minutes on audiobook
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: The short story is narrated by an unnamed protagonist who insists on the health of their mental state while describing their obsession and eventual murder of an old man with a “vulture eye.” The central conflict revolves around the protagonist's descent into “madness” as they are tormented by the old man's eye and driven to commit a heinous act due to irrational fear.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Violence; themes of obsession and psychological distress, which the author terms “madness”; descriptions of murder

Edgar Allan Poe, Author

  • Bio: Born 1809; American writer, poet, and literary critic; central figure in the American Romantic movement; known for his macabre and mysterious works; often explores themes of death, “madness,” and the unknown; wrote both poetry and short stories; “The Tell-Tale Heart” left a lasting legacy in literature and is regarded as a master example of the short story and psychological horror
  • Other Works: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839); “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842); “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1842); “The Black Cat” (1843); The Raven and Other Poems (1845); “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846); “Annabel Lee” (1849)

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