Tales From The Library - The Tell Tale Hearts

Thursday, 25 June, 2020 / 3:00 pm
Tales From The Library - The Tell Tale Hearts

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Join us for Tales From The Library: A new connect book review club in the Virtual Coffee Shop. Every Thursday at 3pm we will explore a new book and tale from various different writers. Read the book in advance or listen to our available audio recordings of the stories and then join us for a chat about the story and its deeper themes and meanings. Book recordings will be made available on the Wednesday before the Connect Group chat. Sign up below in order to take part and access the books.

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

This week we will be discussing Edgar Allen Poe’s short story 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Normally we provide an audio book of the book we will be discussing, but upon coming to record the weekly audio book I noticed there is a rather marvellous one read by Sir Christopher Lee already available, and as lovely as my rendition I’m sure would have been it would be a challenge to upstage Sir Christopher Lee.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843. It is related by an unnamed narrator who endeavors to convince the reader of the narrator’s sanity while simultaneously describing a murder the narrator committed. The victim was an old man with a filmy "vulture-eye", as the narrator calls it. The narrator emphasizes the careful calculation of the murder, attempting the perfect crime, complete with dismembering and hiding the body under the floorboards. Ultimately, the narrator's feelings result in hearing a thumping sound, which the narrator interprets as the dead man's beating heart.

The specific motivation for murder (aside from the narrator's dislike of the old man's eye), the relationship between narrator and old man, the gender of the narrator, and other details are left unclear. The narrator denies having any feelings of hatred or resentment for the man who had, as stated, "[the old man] never wronged", the narrator. The narrator also denies having killed for greed.

Critics argue that the old man could be a father figure, the narrator's landlord, or that the narrator works for the old man as a servant, and that perhaps his "vulture-eye" represents a veiled secret or power. The ambiguity and lack of details about the two main characters stand in contrast to the specific plot details leading up to the murder.

This is a well known and well disscussed book in literary circles so i very much look forwsrd to hear what your impression of this classic tale is at our Thursday meeting at 3PM


1. Who do you think the main character is in relation to the old man?

2. What do you make of the 'Vulture eye'? a metaphor for something more mysterious? or perhaps simply a grotesquely large eye?

3. What do you think of the characters motivations to kill the old man if not for greed or hatred? 

4. Think about the mention of madness in the story, how does the characters acknowledgement of madness and his rebuttal of his own sanity shape our impression of him?

5. Is the old man still alive?


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